Lower Tiers ORAS UU Discussion, Trends, and Rambling

Pak

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Hello hello. While I've been mostly known in the UU community as that one randomly enthusiastic ORAS guy, there has never really been a place to formulate my thoughts on the current/former state of affairs and whatever developments or whatever else take place, aside from my most recent RMT and revamping of the viability rankings roughly a year ago. As shown by those posts and what those around me on a regular basis may be able to confirm, I could go on and on and on about this tier no one plays, and that's what I intend to do here. In recent times I've made a point to take a step back from tournaments to some extent, but I still really enjoy just discussing metagame states and all the other shit that goes into building, which is imo the best part of this objectively dog shit game. Lately, I've been inspired to give back a bit by some goons like BKC with his youtube channel and Donphantastic, who has played a big role in promoting DPP UU's popularity in recent years out of his infectious passion for the tier and open willingness to help anyone get into it. Beyond VRs, Speed tiers, (outdated) analyses, etc., there isn't much of a resource for any potentially willing players of ORAS UU to get a better feel for the current state of things, and that is mostly what I aim to shed some light on with this thread. Not expecting it to be super active or anything considering the relatively tiny playerbase, but of course I'd welcome any other users who wish to contribute in some form. Some ideas I had were doing stuff like team framework highlights, Pokemon spotlights, and other general metagame shit. Whether 2 people or however many read this is whatever honestly, but just providing some kind of resource makes it worthwhile to me.

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Pak

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Entei is perhaps the most polarizing Pokemon in the ORAS UU tier. Since the XY days, it's essentially done the same thing over and over, nuking shit with Choice Band Sacred Fire, which of course also has a stupidly high chance to inflict a broken pre-gen 7 burn. Bulky Water-types like Swampert (especially mega), Seismitoad, and Tentacruel are some of the most easily fit 'defensive answers' to it, but by no means are they safe. These types of sturdy Fire resists obviously all lack reliable recovery, meaning theoretically, they will almost certainly be outlasted by the legendary fire dog. Beyond these generic answers, there are others that are infinitely more reliable in dealing with Entei such as Slowking, Suicune, and Snorlax. However, you may notice the latter two rely on Rest to stay at sufficient amounts of health, often giving up heaps of momentum in their continuous recovery cycles all in the name of keeping Entei consistently in check. Given Slowking's access to one-turn recovery and broken ability in Regenerator, it is the most formidable long-term answer to it while still keeping the ball in your court to some extent momentum wise. However, it still hates the continual chip from burns, especially with its Colbur Berry Psychic set that has rose in popularity in recent years, which obviously lacks passive recovery aside from Regenerator. These types of interactions are what led a decent portion of the community, most notably tony and pearl, to essentially campaign for a serious look in Entei or Sacred Fire's direction when it came to potential bans in late 2016. In a tier seemingly no one was satisfied with, perhaps it could give the tier the additional breathing room in the builder to make playing the tier more worthwhile.

Based on the above, and the natural offensive opportunities in a tier dominated by the presence of bulky Fairy-types, it might sound as if I were making a case for Entei's unhealthy and potentially ban-worthy presence, and there still is an argument to be made in that aspect. However, Entei's place in the metagame has been in my opinion the most bizarre development since that late 2016 period when the tier officially came to an end. As mentioned above, much of the common team frameworks incorporate some kind of bulky Water-type. This is for a variety of reasons, mostly stemming from general defensive utility, but the main branch off of that is dealing with the two big threats: Mega Aerodactyl and Entei. When people brought up the laundry list of potential issues and teambuilding constraints within the tier, Entei was always near the top. So what happened and why is it bizarre? This formerly S-rank and supposed broken element in the tier has almost completely fallen off the map in recent memory.

In the on-going UU World Cup, there have been 21 ORAS games. Out of those 42 teams, 4 have had an Entei. In UUPL 2020, 32 games, 64 teams, 5 Enteis. For something so threatening in a vacuum, why has Entei almost entirely fallen out of tournament relevance? It all ties back to that term: in a vacuum. Let it be known, an Entei in the right matchup is, in my opinion, is the most devastating and unforgiving breaker to face. See an example here from a UU World Cup tiebreak game. In theory, Santu has 2 fine checks to Fires in Tentacruel and Hydreigon, but Entei just did Entei things, burning everything in sight and abusing passive defensive staples (you know, until truly inexplicable things happened at the end). There are certain matchups where the fire dog will just go to town and we'll have flashbacks to those 'ban Sacred Fire' days, but it isn't always that simple, and that is for a number of reasons / issues it runs into.
  1. Stealth Rock weakness - While this one is very self-explanatory, it really does go a long way in minimizing Entei's opportunities to throw itself in and start throwing out powerful attacks. An ideal setup was like the one shown in that tiebreak game, where Kink could keep rocks on his side, and simply play his Entei aggressively to kill everything in sight, but that isn't always doable or easy. The fact of the matter is that ORAS UU's Stealth Rock users are much better than the limited removal options. Ordinarily, Entei's offensive opportunities will come from the tier's defensive reliance on Fairies like Florges. It takes negligible damage from Moonblast and can click moves pretty freely, but it is much easier in theory than practice in many settings. Florges almost always has a bulky Water next to it, and it usually isn't something as flimsy as Tentacruel. With rocks on the Entei user's side, it isn't uncommon that it'll eat the 25 from rocks as Florges throws a Moonblast or a Wish in the air to easily pivot into another defensive check. While it will make some sort of progress generally, it will often not have the longevity itself to outlast the burn targets it is supposed to and so on.
  2. Inconsistency - I already mentioned how devastating an Entei in the right matchup is. That isn't always a given, and if it was, then Entei would almost certainly be BL. While the hard defensive answers I mentioned earlier do often lose momentum in some form aside from Slowking, Entei is still prevented from generating meaningful progress on its own. If Entei is your primary breaker, your team can be hung out to dry to some extent. I mean, every team will have answers to bulky Waters blah blah, but ok you're still trading a Pokemon slot to force a Rest or whatever. You can only fit so much breaking power and cohesiveness on a team and its hard not to rely on Entei breaking in a decent capacity.
  3. Fit onto teams - Ok, personally, I've tried for years and have never ever ever made an Entei team I actually liked. There are a lot of boxes to check in a functional ORAS team, and Entei doesn't check many. I can't stress enough that it CAN run the table in the right scenario, but again, it isn't a guarantee. This ties into fitting on teams in that you can't over-rely on Entei to carry too much of the load offensively because if it gets blanked, there's a good chance you're fucked. The main selling point is of course abusing defensive fairies, but ye ye I described this early, limited opportunities, Wishes always floating above Florges, and bulky Waters being omnipresent. It does offer some strong priority too, which I haven't touched on to this point, but that's about it. Ideally with Entei you have the following: reliable hazard control, teammates to position it more easily, additional ways of pressuring Fairies, ways to directly abuse bulky Water-types. Making a point to fit Entei really really handcuffs you and you aren't ever going to accomplish all of those perfectly without, again, relying on it too much in some way. Its inconsistency largely carries over to the teams it finds itself on as well.
So here we are at the final part of Entei's character arc, and also why it's been so intriguing to me as of late. Because of its reduced presence and resulting occasional lack of strong counterplay in tournaments, isn't this the time to hypothetically jump back on the hype train? I mean goons have been rolling up with Fire resist: Dragon Dance Gyarados with partners that hand it opportunities on opportunities ffs. I thought so and ran into the same issues over and over while trying to make use of it recently. Despite having the biggest reputation of them by a mile in the history of the tier, I honestly see it in a similar vein as the other inconsistent-matchup-pick breakers, which can of course find themselves at home under the right conditions, but they can just as easily not be worth using. If I'm being honest though, Sacred Fire is stupid as shit and probably is unhealthy. It would take the additional strain off building (if people even still do actively consider it). All in all though, I just thought it was super interesting how much of a turn its taken in the minds of builders and its general presence, which was at one point considered to be too much, basically disappearing before our eyes.
 

Pak

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'Toad Mandirose' Team Structure Analysis
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If you look through the replay thread of any team tournament containing ORAS UU over the last year or two, chances are that you'll run across this type of set up a decent number of times. It is, in my opinion, one of the best approaches the tier has to offer, especially in the consistency department. It's pretty rare you'll roll up to a game with these five and simply have no chance. Among them is a really nice amount of flexibility both in-game and even in the builder, despite the latter not being all too apparent at a glance.

As you might guess at a first look, much of that consistency comes as a result of the structure's seamless defensive synergy along with the amazing pivoting capabilities of Mandibuzz. On my more well-known Slowking + Mandibuzz bulky offenses, Mandibuzz is under a lot more pressure to handle things like Hydreigon and Mega Sceptile, meaning it really has to pick its spots when it comes to healing vs gaining momentum with U-turn. Florges all but alleviates that sometimes-pressing dilemma, as there is a nice overlap between them in covering special attackers without any real drawback being present. Additionally, something Mandibuzz absolutely hates is being statused by opposing Stealth Rock setters, and while it still does here obviously, Florges is there to back it up as a cleric. Between Aromatherapy in the back and the lack of defensive pressure on it, Mandibuzz is most at home and can truly reach its full potential as a pivot. Like I said though, it isn't redundant by any means and fits into the general structure of the team nicely, still covering threats like Krookodile, Gyarados, Celebi, and opposing Roserade. Mega Aerodactyl needs no introduction is one of the kings of ORAS UU, although here it offers the team speed control/revenge killing, a sturdy Flying resist, and potentially pursuit to clean up Mandibuzz's pivoting dirty work on foes like Celebi. Roserade does Roserade things, heavily appreciating the positioning provided by the buzzard and either setting hazards or throwing out its powerful attacks versus the ever-present bulky Water- and Fairy-types in the tier. I've done a lot of Seismitoad gassing as a late, and it is the preferred option here as it keeps hazards up on virtually everything, but most notably against Tentacruel and Empoleon, whereas its counterpart Swampert would have a harder time against them (Scald immunity is a fucking god send). In the same vein as Florges and Mandibuzz's shared defensive responsibilities, the toad also takes pressure off Roserade in dealing with opposing bulky Waters like the two mentioned above among others. It's simply a nice, cohesive five Pokemon that is really hard to go wrong with. Much of the metagame is covered across them and the last team slot is less about "needing to cover x" than it is "would be nice to have y". Naturally, it kind of has to be a Steel-type considering they glue together teams in any tier, and this one is no exception (PLEASE USE STEELS OMFG).

Below I'll be touching on some of the potential options for the last slot, and what types of pros and cons are involved with each. They all offer a unique skill set and prompt a trickle down in the other sets present in the team. I mentioned earlier the underlying flexibility of the team's members, and the last member goes a long way in nailing down what really is optimal in this type of set up.

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Metagross @ Leftovers
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 248 HP / 108 Atk / 96 Def / 56 Spe
Impish Nature
- Meteor Mash
- Earthquake
- Toxic
- Protect

[Demongross sidenote] This thing is such a bitch omfg. My main gripe with demongross is usually that I can't fit rocks elsewhere and have to run it over Protect, but that obviously isn't the case here. It finds itself at home perfectly, as toad sets rocks for the team, Florges can support it with Wish, and Mandibuzz pivots into and positioning-abuses potential choice mons that threaten Metagross like CB Krookodile or whatever Hydreigon after a Protect. This thing so deceptively gets out of hand purely because of its ridiculous bulk and recovery that seems to stack up out of nowhere. There isn't much that truly walls this thing long term, as obviously its still strong, as all Metagross naturally are, and it can sling a Toxic on anything Mash + EQ doesn't threaten.

Pros:
  • Alleviates some pressure off of Seismitoad in dealing with opposing Mega Aerodactyl. It's otherwise hard pressed to remain healthy long-term without specifically playing around things to do so. Of course toad is a good aero check, but anything that gives more flexibility in game is appreciated.
  • Speaking of Mega Aerodactyl, demongross in the last slot actually more easily allows your own to use Hone Claws. Metagross is a formidable check to Celebi in its own right, especially with the drop off of Shadow Ball usage (you have Mandibuzz for that anyway), so using Pursuit on Mega Aerodactyl is much less necessary to keep it in check. Also, Metagross can very very easily throw Toxics on some of Aero's most prominent checks in Slowking or Swampert. It also isn't uncommon that they'll switch their Mega Steel in since its immune to Toxic and attempt to threaten it back, but this thing is fat as shit and can easily trade damage for Aero to have an easier time later.
    • Hitting Swampert/Seismitoad with Toxic also helps Mandibuzz out a ton in winning the hazard war long-term, so there's that too.
  • In the same vein as taking pressure off of Seismitoad, it does the same thing for Roserade in easily handling opposing Florges. Having 1 fairy resist is sometimes necessary and can get really scary really quickly if Roserade gets Pursuit trapped or something, so having extra insurance versus the tier's main defensive staple is always appreciated.
Cons:
  • Metagross doesn't exactly help out in the speed department, as four members are outsped by things like Nidoqueen and Mamoswine, making it harder to minimize their offensive opportunities. The defensive synergy remains tight overall, but those middling speed breakers are the main issue when going with a slower option.
  • Cobalion is one of the few mons that is truly an issue for the five original members. I mean, it could be worse, but there isn't a real hard check, and that's especially apparent when you're relying on Mandibuzz defensively. Obviously, Metagross doesn't help out a ton in that sense, but it can trade damage if need be so its not the end of the world.
  • Suicune can always pose an issue for teams relying on Roserade to beat it, since it is often paired with Pursuit. Rest Suicune is one of the few Pokemon to truly stone-wall this Metagross set, so having another Pokemon it can get going versus is less than ideal. It still hates to be sleeping, especially against a potential Hone Claws Aerodactyl, but yeah he's a threat.
  • Snorlax I guess?

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Doublade @ Eviolite
Ability: No Guard
EVs: 240 HP / 252 Atk / 16 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Iron Head
- Shadow Sneak
- Swords Dance
- Toxic / Shadow Claw
Pros:
  • Doublade counters Cobalion and standard Calm Mind Reuniclus, which are both issues for the above five. Mega Aerodactyl traditionally goes with Crunch in one of its move slots to help out against the latter, but it still remains a problem without the Ghost sword thing. It also is like Demongross in that it takes pressure off of Seismitoad in dealing with opposing Mega Aerodactyl and helps out against Fairies in some capacity too. From a pure defensive synergy perspective, Doublade is the best pick for the last slot.
  • Doublade also offers the team a win condition from the Steel-type slot, and it is weirdly well-supported. It's hard to be much better versus Dark-types than this team between Florges and Mandibuzz, which are of course Doublade's most common revenge killers. Its other main answers in bulky Water-types for the most part are dealt with by Roserade and Seismitoad. The former of which can also set Spikes to wear down some of the aforementioned checks long-term.
  • This is kind of a smaller one, but Doublade also counters Toxicroak along with the aforementioned Cobalion. Due to these two being in held in check sturdily, Seismitoad has no need to run Earth Power. Scald Knock Off Toxic Rocks is a set I LOVE oh my god. Play with it a little bit and you'll see why, just so much flipping utility. Croak and Coba are the 2 reasons you run EP imo since Knock OHKOs both Emp and Tenta in combo with Scald anyway so bop.
Cons:
  • Take the Speed point for Metagross above, and make it worse. This things obviously slow as shit too, but it does offer priority too so that's a positive I suppose.
  • While I said it deals with Fairies like Metagross does, it is to a much lesser extent since they can just hard or Wish pass into the inevitable bulky Water-type next to them so Doublade won't be making much progress at all on its own. That's kind of why I like fitting Toxic there, so you can still support Aero and Mandibuzz a bit by luring some of the thorns in their side. Also Moonblast hits deceivingly hard because Doublade is shit.
  • It does have priority Shadow Sneak, but this thing really isn't a great Celebi check by virtue of its bad sp def. You can use Hone Claws Aero next to this thing, but its shakier without another firm check next to Mandibuzz, which will usually just U-turn to Mega Aerodactyl. Still a fine line of play, but a much higher chance it'll get out of hand without Pursuit.

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Cobalion @ Shuca Berry
Ability: Justified
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Close Combat
- Iron Head
- Zen Headbutt / whatever you want
- Swords Dance
Pros:
  • Now, I said Doublade gave a wincon, but this one is an actual wincon. 3 atk Cobalion is one of the harder Pokemon to outright wall, especially with the types of balances people will generally run. Your coverage can be tailored to whatever matchup you want really. Zen Headbutt is usually my fallback because it'll just obliterate 90% of Tentacruel balances on the spot *cough*. However, it could just as easily be like Stone Edge, X-Scissor, whatever else.
  • Cobalion's notorious for not being a Steel. It only fits on the most specific of teams, and this is a decent example. You have Mega Aerodactyl for Flying-types, Roserade for Fairy-types, and some halfway-decent counterplay to Psychic-types. A pro in itself is simply that Cobalion's slot isn't relied on to do much since there isn't much to even be done, which is usually its main drawback.
  • The other two I've talked about have both been pretty slow, and that's something Cobalion really has going for it. You actually have a good offensive check to the Mamoswines of the world (and also have the world's greatest team versus Hydreigon all of a sudden) and a generally good revenge killer in addition to Aero. Even doing stuff like getting some damage off on Nidoqueen can go a long way in reducing its effectiveness and stuff like that. Speed is cool.
Cons:
  • Cobalion's notorious for not being a Steel. Yeah..so it goes back to what I said earlier. There isn't a ton that's needed out of this slot, but having the extra insurance versus things that Steel-types are supposed to beat is nice, and Cobalion does NOT do that. I mean, Calm Mind Cresselia is unironically kind of threatening (although Seismitoad does have Toxic for it). Aside from that, you kinda need Pursuit on Aerodactyl if you aren't carrying X-Scissor since your Celebi mu is especially dire without a real steel. Well, dire isn't the right word but the other steels are pretty air tight against it and you'd rather not have to run either suit or X-Scissor if possible. Blah blah you aren't great against opposing Aero but it isnt too bad I guess. Also Roserade is your only Fairy resist now.
  • As I previously brought up, Reuniclus and opposing Cobalion are issues for this type of team. Cobalion doesn't help those much at all besides offering a Speed tie possibility for the former and I guess most Reuniclus teams rely on it to beat Coba, so your chances are pretty decent to hax it down between Iron Head and Focus Miss.

There are some other, more niche options imo, such as Durant (AV is the best set generally and I swear its not some random noob shit) and CB Metagross. The former of which obviously offers some more speed and takes advantage of the rest of the team's cohesiveness, just as Cobalion does, but it leaves the team much much worse off against Mega Aerodactyl and doesn't have many other positives outside of revenging opposing Cobalion and offering a method of more directly threatening Psychics (mainly Celebi/Cress/Reuniclus). CB Metagross offers the team a more immediate source of offense, but it finds itself much more susceptible to getting Pursuit trapped or giving up momentum in general. Its main selling point is crippling bulky Waters, most notably Suicune (by a lot), with Trick, setting up Mega Aerodactyl for a potential Hone Claws sweep later on and generally throwing a wrench in their plans at preview. Demongross is just so so so so so so good though, christ. Also please for the love of god, never put Escavalier in that last slot. It takes all the negatives of all of these and throws them all together, aside from beating Reuniclus. Have fun losing to opposing Aero, Cobalion, and anything fast ever though. Yeah it helps versus Celebi but Mandibuzz Escav is honestly just redundant and the positives it does provide aren't worth.

Anyway, this ended up being much longer than I originally intended (nothing new here), but yeah, hopefully this shed some light on why I'm so fond of this type of team. There's a ton of flexibility in-game generally, and sets can always be shifted around to keep opponents off balance, whether it is HP Fire Roserade, Calm Mind Florges, Hone Claws Aero, or whatever else you want in the last slot. There's a reason its been a staple in tournaments ever since me and Pearl made the first version in early 2017 with Coba last. It's just a fire set-up bros, try it out.
 

Pak

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There were a number of major changes brought about by the metagame shift from defensive Sylveon back to Florges. Many of them were more immediately apparent, such as Fairy-resistant Roar being a much less reliable means of dealing with that type of slot. However, one of the more intriguing shifts that I'm not sure too many people are aware of is Mega Abomasnow. Ironically, it was seen as one of the better direct Sylveon punishment given its access to Soundproof pre-mega as well as Swords Dance in combo with STAB Ice Shard and the like. However, I would argue that the ice tree thing is better than ever.

I mean, don't get me wrong. Mega Abomasnow has always been pretty awkward to some extent. It has such a unique/weird offensive and more specifically defensive typing that theorizing a team around it can get really tough considering how constrained ORAS UU building already is. While I brought up its Swords Dance set and its past effectiveness, it was also a victim of the broken move: Scald. BTW epic throwback to the No Scald ladder in mid ORAS where this thing was jesus. Anyway though, having your Grass-type potentially invalidated by one of the most spammed moves, by some of the main Pokemon it was meant to abuse, made things even more awkward in-game. It was incredibly hit or miss, especially since things like Mandibuzz that inadvertently handled it well were on the rise. Even when it got its 'preferred' matchups against Sylveon-reliant balance teams featuring your usual bulky Water-type too, you had to keep it non-Mega'd in order to generate those supposedly free Swords Dance opportunities. However, it goes without saying that a non-Mega'd Abomasnow doesn't present too much of a threat to just about any team. It was still a solid matchup pick here and there, but very very difficult to justify.

This is where that aforementioned shift comes in. Gone are the days where the tier's main defensive Fairy is entirely reliant on Sound-based moves, removing the primary avenue for Swords Dance Aboma's main chances to do damage. However, in its place is a Pokemon reliant on Synthesis for its primary source of recovery. So yeah..just put Snow Warning on this man and suddenly you're cutting off the recovery of the tier's premier defensive staple right now. Also, Sylveon was perhaps the most notable check to Mega Abomasnow's other viable set in mixed, since it could shrug off any move with halfway decent ease, barring some tom foolery like Growth, which is like why not use SD at that point. That same mixed set is where Mega Abomasnow shines in modern ORAS UU. Fucking with Synthesis is of course one of its main draws, especially when paired with partners that appreciate a weakened Florges, such as Hydreigon, Conkeldurr, or Heracross. Over recent years there has also been a renaissance in the form of Slowking Mandibuzz reliant bulky offenses, which generally are not well-equipped to pivot into a mixed Aboma again and again. It's not like this thing has a ton of opportunities to kill shit, but it has never ever been better equipped to do so, or at least put some respectable dents in the opposing defensive core. It goes without saying that max Special Attack Blizzard hits hard as a truck, possessing only a couple safe switch-ins following the death of Cleric Sylveon. Also, since its more focused on killing things and less on setting up to sweep, it can be played more off the rails and reckless, resulting in huge pay-offs at times. It still runs into some of the same issues, mainly with the awkward defensive typing and needing additional answers to bulky Waters (although the aforementioned Guts Fightings can fill that role nicely), but its wall-breaking consistency and overall utility in the form of cutting off Synthesis make it a genuinely solid pick in today's metagame. It has honestly been one of my favorite inadvertent wrinkles of the move back to Florges for balance and I'm excited to see some other teambuilding takes on it in the future.
 
Hello UUers, as some of you know I have been someone who has followed the evolution of ORAS UU over the past few years and while it drives me nuts, I will be the first to say that I will be attached to it as long as it lives and am happy to see that Pak has made something like this.

One thing that has stuck out to me in the past year or so about ORAS is how stacking wall breakers can be surprisingly viable given the framework of florg balance being the most consistent archetype in the meta. Being able to effectively stack breakers is something that has appealed to me directly as I enjoy the ability to take risks to open up games, but at the same time there is a fundamental principle to some of these breakers that allows avenues of progress to made even though you may not be claiming a pokemon every time, which is also something I've been able to appreciate. Certain breakers can run different techs depending on support as well thus making teambuilding more diverse. Without further ado, lets proceed.

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Conkeldurr @ Choice Band
Ability: Iron Fist
EVs: 128 HP / 252 Atk / 128 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Hammer Arm
- Mach Punch
- Knock Off
- Ice Punch / Thunder Punch / Poison Jab


Fitting to start with the big man. Band Conk isn't anything new, however many ORAS players have found it to still be quite effective in the current meta. I think something that is really neat about band conk is that it's genuinely a fantastic lead in 75% of matchups just due to its natural bulk for a fighting type. Being able to threaten an OHKO on a fair amount of pokemon Bulk up sets need progress in order to beat like whimsicott, Nidoqueen/King, Crobat, and Aerodactyl is a very nice trait to have. Cool thing about band conk is that again, depending on your support you have multiple viable options for that last slot and I think a lot of it comes down to how your team can take advantage of fairy's. If you have a viable way of taking advantage of something like florges I think your best bet is to go with one of the elemental punches given the ability of Hammer arm to force recovery out of that mon giving you a free turn to get in something like a nido/roserade/steel of your choice. Posion Jab is definitely still usable given some teams may not be able to make progress on that mon as efficiently and the threat of bulk up will still force florges in the majority of the time. Fantastic way for teams to open up holes when handled properly.

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Sylveon @ Choice Specs
Ability: Pixilate
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA / 30 Spe
- Hyper Voice
- Psyshock
- Shadow Ball
- Hidden Power [Fire] / Quick Attack


If you're going to use this mon currently, effectively building around a specs set is probably your best bet. It's not the most efficient choice for a breaker as it may not pull the best matchups sometimes given the popularity of a mon like empoleon, but I think it's something that is stackable with conkeldurr to be able to apply constant early pressure on teams. The combination of psyshock and shadow ball opens up avenues for aggressive plays against teams that rely on roserade/nidoqueen/crobat/metagross as fairy resists. You may not be landing OHKOs on all of these mons, but again in conjuction with something like heracross or conk, you can start eliminating checks for yourself later in a game for those mons or to just give yourself the ability to click hyper voice more freely. In a perfect world baton pass as the final slot would be ideal however we don't have that luxury for good reason anymore so you can probably get away with not necessarily "whatever" but a fair bit. HP fire is probably safe to hit the occasional spD forretress that may want to check this mon or Quick attack as emergency priority very late in games albeit I've never actually clicked it when I've had it. Hyper beam may be somewhat of an alternative as well to click very late in game, but that's just a theory tbh. I'd say a fair drawback to using this mon as your fairy would be an inevitable weakness to hydreigon as it is a wallbreaker that may not be able to stick around for awhile so use it with care.

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Tyrantrum @ Choice Band
Ability: Rock Head
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Head Smash
- Outrage
- Earthquake
- Facade


Tyrantrum was something Pak had introduced to me as something that was effective against Stall and something in general that can help teams wear down bulky steels like demongross, aggron, and steelix that aren't as popular right now maybe, but still things you cant afford to struggle with too much. I think team support is huge on this one as pairing it with things that thrive off of weakened steels late in games like hone claws aerodactyl or an offensive crobat can be quite effective. Something specific that I like about tyrantrum is that it's a breaker that you don't always have to be overly aggressive with. Clicking head smash is fine most of the time to avoid being caught overthinking and losing out on opportunities to simply just make progress for its teammates due to the sheer strength of this mon. Facade is also a great middle ground later in games given you may have caught a toxic or scald burn by some of the bulky waters in oras. Like with sylveon, you may not always pull amazing matchups with ttrum, but given the laziness of team choices players tend to have in this meta, you can take advantage of them to good effect with this mon.

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Crawdaunt @ Life Orb
Ability: Adaptability
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Swords Dance
- Knock Off
- Crabhammer
- Aqua Jet


Crawdaunt has been more of a personal experiment of mine recently and I think it does find an ok niche in the current state of ORAS. You can't really stick it on a lot of archetypes though. I'd say if you want to use it you'll find the most success just going with a straight up whimsicott + 5 approach and just proceed to stack your threats. My main appeal to this mon is its ability to more or less double up as a straight up breaker and sweeper depending on your matchup. Some instances, clicking your stabs is perfectly fine to hole punch for teammates if you don't see a way to SD at any point. Yes, pretty much every team you face will have ways to sponge a +2 aqua jet whether it's in the form of hydreigon/whimsicott/celebi/roserade or others. However, I think those mons are forced to stay healthy when playing against this mon and can sometimes be relied on too heavily to check it thus forcing sacks or getting worn down directly in the process by/for teammates. Definitely think craw could see more usage, just very limited in terms of the types of teams you can put it on for sure.


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Some honorable mentions for me. Heracross could probably deserve it's own mention because I think it is quite potent in terms of being able to break down bulkier teams and can function very well with the right support. Can run a multitude of sets like SD lefties/Tox orb/Band/Scarf as well to find niches. I threw in gross as well as I've noticed a life orb trend going around that I honestly don't think is bad enough to write off. LO boom sets can function very well in teams that don't deal with slowking as well and it acts as a nice lure given how busted slowking is right now. Pak's post about Abomasnow is also amazing as that is another off hand mon that can create annoying sequences for opponents and deserves another mention.

:pimp:
 
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Pak

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'Conk MandiRose' Team Structure Analysis
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https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-gen6uu-444862 - Lycans vs HT, UUPL 2019
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-gen6uu-485416 - Sacri' vs yeezyknows, UUPL 2020
While this type of team isn't exactly a foreign concept, considering the presence of Mandibuzz/Aerodactyl/Slowking + strong Poison-type, but ironically this approach hasn't been all too common over the last few years. The more common Bulk Up Conkeldurr approaches consist of traditional HazeBat + Defog Emp + some presumed breaker Hydreigon, which as I mentioned in my RMT linked in the OP, is a bit past its prime. That type of team structure preyed on Sylveon-reliant teams above all else, since Conkeldurr and Hydreigon could very easily dent the Fairy cat for each other and Empoleon could phaze it out as it attempted to heal up. Those kinds of teams are still quite strong in the current meta, but not quite to the extent as they were, say 3 years ago. Actively pressuring Florges is much more difficult, given its one-turn recovery that I've brought up in this thread 900 times, and its difficult for that type of set up to fit other options to do so.

Despite it basically being the baby of my generic Mandiqueen Rose and ConkPoleon Hydra stuff, this kind of team has seen almost no usage in tournaments, aside from the two instances above, where shockingly, Conkeldurr ended up sweeping in fairly easy fashion. As I highlighted more in-depth here, its counterplay is incredibly limited, and it is the single most centralizing force in a tier thoroughly constrained by its top threats. The style above is a different type of approach to Bulk Up Conkeldurr, utilizing a more up-beat supporting cast to really put the broken Fighting-type's very limited answers further on the back foot. This comes in contrast to the traditional approach mentioned above, which generally relies on breaker Hydreigon + Conkeldurr playing off of each other to hopefully break through eventually. Conk's two main answers at the moment are of course Florges and HazeBat, which are solid Pokemon in their own right, but they also bring about a natural passivity, as they are constantly forced to heal up in order to handle Conk long-term. These cases are furthered by the facts that Florges will lose its Leftovers to it upon switch-in and that Crobat is weak to rocks. Abusing these organically created free turns are the team's other members.

When I made the original version of the team, the one that Lycans used in UUPL 2019 finals, my initial idea was Conk + Roserade. Not only does Roserade apply immense pressure to defensive Fairy-types, but it also takes pressure off of the Fighting in that it can also handle bulky Waters, as well as provide Sleep Powder support. The latter is especially notable considering that one of Roserade's only real switch-ins if running HP Fire (which it can more easily afford to next to a bulky Guts user, Technician is obv much worse versus Scald users) happens to be none other than Crobat. So you may see the natural overlap there, something that is even more exploitable if the Crobat is carrying Defog. The bat is notorious for being among the worst hazard removers in a tier of shitty removal, and that mostly comes from its horrendous one-on-one matchup with Steel-type rockers. Bop, throw in your Steel rocker in the last slot, and suddenly your hazards are there to stay in combination with your two huge huge threats to much of the metagame not named Crobat. I opted for what may be considered a meme pick in regular Steelix on my version, but it takes up the space it needs to (and is still a Ground-type), checking opposing Mega Aerodactyl and doing other ordinary Steel-type things like pressure Fairies/Crobat and use their recovery turns to generate free rocks. Originally, I had Roar to reeeeally fuck with Sylveon alongside Conk, similar to what Empoleon is usually there for, but now there is additionally flexibility for something like Toxic. Toxic lets it pressure stuff such as Mandibuzz and bulky Waters, making it much much less passive than it ordinarily would be. The Friends in UUPL opted for rising pick Demongross, only with rocks on it. It basically does the same thing but applies more pressure as covered earlier, while possessing a worse Aerodactyl matchup and not providing an Electric immune. However, its still a fine pick because I mean, it is a wayyyy better standalone Pokemon than regular Steelix of all things. It also usually fucks over Psychic Slowking-reliant teams over v well. Completing the fuck-Crobat trifecta alongside Roserade's Sleep Powder and the Steel rocker is good ole Pursuit Mega Aerodactyl. Throw this man in on the inevitable bat Roosts too and suddenly that thing is 100% suffocated, even if they sack something else to Sleep.

Aside from Crobat, there is also Florges out there checking Bulk Up Conkeldurr like I said, and the framework does a great job of punishing it as well. Losing Leftovers from the inevitable Conk Knock Off is really really big, especially in conjunction with the rocks that are presumably there to stay for much of the game. Rounding out the team's base core is the trusty Slowking Mandibuzz core, which also play a good part in pressuring Florges. I talked in an earlier post about the significance and the positioning it can provide offensive Poisons alongside it, and that is no different in this setting either. Roserade, especially Technician HP Fire, can just go in on these generic defensive cores, especially if gifted free opportunities on the tier's staple defensive flower. Also, a knocked off Florges is actually reeeeally annoyed by Slowking and its potential status moves. More and more does it find itself clicking Synthesis or Aromatherapy, presenting more chances for Roserade or the Steel to come in and fulfill their respective roles. The Lycans game is actually a great example of what this type of set up can do to a usual Florges balance, and to the surprise of no one, Conkeldurr was eventually able to break through and clean up the game. The team just has a very natural flow to it, especially if the opponent is commonly forced into passive sequences, such as those shown in that example.

I would talk about Cresselia as an answer but its passive as shit and dumb weak to every status ever, also I'm lazy.

So yeah, in conclusion while this type of team isn't anything ground-breaking, its just a strong combination of Pokemon and they are cohesive enough to have the tools in most games and get the most out of Conkeldurr. It isn't my favorite set up by any means, but it is a strong pick imo and it probably should see a bit more usage in the future. haha something something Conk is incredibly balanced and fun haha.
 

Pak

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ORAS UU Greed Powder

If you’ve ever been around me ever, you’re probably familiar with what it by far my biggest Pokémon trigger: the infamous greed powder. It is in my opinion, the worst possible play anyone could make, but it consistently happens again and again, and I’ve never really talked about it here on smog. Every time it happens, I’m convinced a puppy dies somewhere out of pure disappointment and sadness, especially when it actually works out and the cycle continues.

For those unaware, a greed powder is categorized as a Sleep Powder, usually from Roserade in this setting, that is used in the face of a Pokémon that severely threatens it, most notably early on in a game. I’m honestly starting to think that sleep is a legitimately broken mechanic, since I mean, you essentially get to play 6 v 5, and for them to even the playing field, they are forced to lose momentum in some form to do so. However, people tend to get a little too carried away with the potential benefits, where the foe could be out of commission for as long as three turns. The most common examples include scenarios like early-game one-on-one matchups between Roserade and a Steel-type rocker such as Mega Aggron or Metagross. The temptation is naturally huge to pop the Sleep Powder, prevent rocks, and go from there. However, as we all know, Sleep Powder isn’t a perfect move and it’s accuracy is kinda ass. If it were Spore in this situations, it would be perfectly fine since there is really nothing to lose and the benefits still remain. But that’s the issue, there is a risk in clicking Sleep Powder. On top of the 25% chance to miss, where you can just die on the spot and lose out on one of your primary progress makers, they can also just wake up after 1 turn and you accomplish nothing. Between that 25% miss chance and 33% chance at a first turn wake the following turn, it comes out to about a 50% chance that the play will benefit the Rose user AT ALL, with the added chance of dying on the flipping spot. Roserade is very very very rarely useless, and rocks are never that constricting that it’s worth the risk so early on. In the same vein, sleep is sooooooo much more effective when it’s used on the switch, so that the foe doesn’t burn any turns immediately and it is guaranteed to have some sort of positive impact. Roserade should be preying on its constant good one-on-one matchups against things like Florges and bulky Waters to freely throw on a Sleep Powder on the presumed likely switch, making the most of the sleep turns without much of a risk involved at all. It becomes so much easier to put the opponent on the back foot and fuck up the initial intention of their team with a member being dead weight for at least a turn.

For the love of god if you greed powder and miss, you have absolutely no right to get mad, but it consistently happens over and over again. There are a couple of exceptions though. The main one is that I’ve been placing a heavy emphasis on it coming early on in the game, since sometimes rolling the dice on sleep turns is the most optimal play in a mid- to late-game situation. It might not be the perfect play but it does allow for a new avenue for closing out games if needed. The other one isn’t really an exception. It’s just that Sleep Powder against Doublade is essentially Spore, so there’s no risk involved. They might wake up after 1 turn but that’s fine since there was no chance at losing Roserade for nothing and the potential pay offs are still there.

Also I wrote this on my phone on break at work so it might not have been perfect, and ignore the fact that I accidentally hit post and deleted while I was halfway done with it bop.
 
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Pak

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ORAS UU Bulky Water-Types Part 1
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If you've read any of these posts to this point, or well, watched any game of ORAS UU ever, you would know just how prevalent the combination of bulky Water-types and their infamous Scald fishing is within the tier. The latter of which is considered by many to be a top 3 move in the game over the course of generation 6 and for good reason. 12.5% burn is simply put, fucking ridiculous. It allows these ordinarily passive Pokemon to exert soooo much more pressure (ha suicune) than they ordinarily would. The simple dynamic of crippling common switch-ins with burn passive damage and cutting their potentially important Attack stat in half cannot be overstated in terms of its sheer impact on the tier. However, this post is less about Scald and how stupid it is than it is about its users that sit their clicking it, burning everything in sight. I mean, there really isn't a more ORAS UU-ish sequence than two fat Waters sitting there clicking Scald back and forth till one is forced to submit.

Beyond Scald spam, bulky Water-types serve some crucial roles and there are a few reasons why there are such a fixture on pretty much any common balance or bulky offensive team structure. They just offer so much utility in addition to some key defensive capabilities, mostly tying into their general ability to handle things like Mega Aerodactyl, Entei, and Steel-types. These shits are super resilient and see tons of opportunities to mindlessly sling Scalds and see huge payoffs in return. However, in these posts I want to get less general like I have been in the past when referring to them, and go over some of the specific advantages and disadvantages of the more prevalent ones in the tier.

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Pros:
  • Suicune is perhaps the most famous bulky Water-type in the tier, and that is mostly due to its prototypical defensive uses when it comes to that general term that's always thrown around. You simply won't find a better answer to things like Mega Aerodactyl, Entei, Mega Swampert, Steels, etc. on paper. It can be seen as a staple on fat balance frameworks due in large part to those traits tying back to generally outstanding defensive utility.​
  • The other key factor that goes hand in hand with its defensive utility is its potency as a bulky setup sweeper. Since 2014 or so, Suicune has been notorious for warping the tier around itself in some capacity. So much so that there have been people who thought it to be a bit overbearing in that sense over the years. It is capable of going one-on-one with almost all of the tier with its usual Calm Mind RestTalk set or Calm Mind Roar, due in large part to its ridiculous bulk, especially with a couple Calm Minds under its belt, in combination with only possessing two weaknesses. Also Scald is broken.​
  • While it isn't the greatest method of recovery, Suicune does of course have one that it can feasibly use in the form of Rest. While it would probably prefer a generic one-turn 50% recovery move, it does benefit from the fact that Rest alleviates it of status problems that aren't a rare sight for it by any means.​
Cons:
  • This is a weird line to walk, but imo Suicune does suffer a bit from a lack of versatility. Yeah yeah put away your pitchforks for a sec. Suicune's most effective and consistent set is CroCune. RestTalk Calm Mind Scald, you wall shit and try to sweep. Suicune caaaan run other sets, and they can be used to good success in certain scenarios, but there is always a significant trade off when choosing sets. This trade off is that of trading the mon's ridiculous defensive capabilities for either coverage or Roar or Sub or whatever else. It's not to say they are bad options, but from a consistency standpoint, they are a significant step below their CroCune counterpart, let alone Rest Roar sets on a team supporting them well. With Roar, you are forced to drop some other key move, usually Sleep Talk. Roar does some nice things like win potential Calm Mind wars against things like Slowking and Reuniclus, but it naturally leaves Suicune more passive than it would prefer in other settings. Sub sets pretty much throw all defensive uses out the window in exchange for some very fishy auto win matchups, but like, why use Suicune if not for its amazing defensive uses? Offensive sets are pretty much the same but less fishy and just less effective overall. So like, it does have other options, and I'm not denying that they exist, but when it comes to consistency and using Suicune to its fullest potential, there is always a trade off that is generally not worth it in my opinion. Maybe there was a better way to phrase this but you get the point.
  • This next one falls in line with my complaint about Calm Mind Roar sets, but more general. While it is a form of recovery, Rest is obviously not the best one to rely on. To fulfill its aforementioned defensive capabilities, it is often forced into passive Rest cycles to be able to do so long-term. This is especially apparent if it doesn't have Sleep Talk, where it either sits there for two turns sucking up momentum or necessitating the presumed cleric next to it to get an Aromatherapy off, which can clearly get kinda tricky in the thick of an offensive onslaught.
  • This last one goes back to its potency as a setup sweeper, which is undeniable, especially in the builder. However, the thing is that beating Suicune and bulky Waters as a whole is so crucial for any ORAS team to be considered good. I mean, everything has natural checks and shit, but Suicune is so unique and unforgiving that it demands some form of strong counterplay on pretty much any team ever, which obviously limits its sweeping potential. I mean, Suicune is still top tier for a reason, and that is because supporting it against the usual thorns in its side like Celebi, Roserade, Toxicroak, etc. usually isn't all too difficult but yeah.

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Pros:
  • Regenerator is fucking broken. There is no other place to start with this thing besides that. Between it and Slowking's respectable bulk on both sides, this thing is just so flexible as a pivot, coming in on tons of things and never being punished all too hard. In the same vein, it also has access to reliable recovery. My man just sticks around forever and can easily fulfill the necessary defensive uses of a bulky Water throughout the entirety of an ordinary game.​
  • Since Slowking only really needs two moves in Scald and Slack Off, you can kind of fuck around with the remaining slots and that plays a huge role in its versatility. I mean, you'll usually have a Psychic-type move too, whether it is Psyshock or Psychic itself, but this thing has a ton of flexibility in the last slot. It can range from anything like Calm Mind to Toxic to Dragon Tail to Future Sight to many many more. It can do literally whatever a team needs it to and pull off some real tom foolery if the right conditions are met.​
  • Due to its secondary typing in Psychic, Slowking can also easily pivot into many of the tier's Fighting-types, especially if its opting to run a Colbur Berry set featuring Psychic (specifically designed to kinda trade itself for Bulk Up Conkeldurr's ability to clean sweep). It isn't the safest thing ever to switch into all of them, but any additional in-game flexibility is appreciated when it comes to teambuilding and the extra pivoting opportunities do come in handy for holding onto the momentum.​
Cons:
  • While Slowking has respectable bulk, its not-so-great physical bulk makes it a meh check to threats like Mega Aerodactyl and Mega Swampert. Don't get me wrong, it is a fine defensive glue that certainly helps with pivoting into them, but on its own, Slowking is shaky at best and kinda necessitates additional support to handle things like that.
  • While its Psychic-typing helps it out against Fightings, it also gives it some other notable weaknesses. The most prevalent ones really lie in Bug and Dark. The biggest Bug move is of course U-turn, making Slowking weak to both it and its counterpart in Volt Switch. It is generally bulky enough to take on common users of it, but Slowking certainly has a harder time absorbing those hits than other Waters. Also Heracross is a thing. Pursuit is the most notable Dark move, which isn't a huge issue for Colbur sets, but Calm Mind sets especially have some trouble against stuff like Krookodile and Crunch Pursuit Mega Aerodactyl. Matching up poorly against Hydreigon is also pretty annoying but I mean you got Toxic, Calm Mind boosts, and shit to keep it honest.
  • This one isn't a huge deal, but Slowking is vulnerable to passive damage to some extent. I gave the disclaimer because Regenerator is broken and it does have reliable recovery, but it remains vulnerable to all hazards and status conditions, and Colbur sets obviously don't have any form of passive recovery beyond switching out.


To be continued, will probably add 1 more to this one but this shits going to take 12 years.
 

Pak

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ORAS UU Bulky Water-types Part 2
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Quick side note: despite its status as one of the better Pokemon in the tier and of course its Water typing, I will not be going over Empoleon alongside these others. Its utility and defensive uses are really just incomparable to the traditional bulky Water-types of the tier. I mean, the thing can't beat any of Mega Aerodactyl, Entei, Krookodile, Metagross, etc. and it is commonly used to beat shit like Celebi...which cannot be said for many others shockingly. The thing is barely a Steel-type either but that's a topic for another day. This man will pretty much always have a Seismitoad or other bulky Water next to it, or the other team members will handle the slot's other defensive uses by committee.

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While the two aren't exactly the same Pokemon, they essentially fill the same exact role on teams, offering a unique blend of utility and defensive uses. The key difference and main advantage of using Seismitoad is its ability Water Absorb, which obviously grants it an immunity to the tier's most spammed and broken move in Scald. This immunity is especially apparent as it makes the toad perhaps the tier's most reliable Stealth Rock setter, maximizing its one-on-one matchup against removers such as Empoleon and Tentacruel. Swampert threatens them of course, but you can never count out the potential impact of Scald, whereas Seismitoad can continually throw itself into them to maintain hazards on the opposing side, while still sufficiently threatening other removers like Mandibuzz and Crobat with Toxic and Scald. Swampert's selling point is naturally its slightly better bulk, but generally that trade off is not worth it, simply due to a Scald immunity being so gigantic. Making this distinction was important, as the two are similar enough to put under the same umbrella, but they obviously do not have the same exact set of uses and advantages despite their similarities.

Pros:
  • The most notable trait of both Swampert and Seismitoad in direct contrast with the tier's other bulky Water-types is their access to Stealth Rock. As mentioned above, they both, but Seismitoad more specifically, possess solid matchups against pretty much all of the tier's common hazard removal options, assuming they are carrying Toxic. Those removal options are notoriously limited considering every single mon didn't get Defog yet like in SM, so further punishing them and the opposing team is really nice out of such a convenient defensive typing to fit in Water / Ground. Getting Stealth Rock out of the traditional Water-type slot on a team really does open up what roles the other team members need to fulfill. ie: Metagross does not need to run Stealth Rock itself, which is almost always preferred, or you can more feasibly fit things like Doublade or Escavalier without compromising team slots to fit rocks.
  • Also mentioned above, Swampert and Seismitoad also have incredibly nice defensive typings in Water / Ground. It is no secret in pretty much any gen, especially from gen 5 on when Volt Switch was introduced, that those two types find themselves on nearly every single generic team. Water-types have such unparalleled defensive value and are so easy to fit, and on top of that, pert and toad offer the team one of the other near fixtures, offering the rest of the team more flexibility in what they need to fit. Finding a Ground that fits your team isn't always an easy task despite the fact that the tier does have some pretty solid options. As ground-breaking as it may sound, having a Seismitoad over something like Suicune + Krook takes up 1 slot as opposed to their 2. Obviously they do incredibly different things, but yeah, flexibility. Lastly, they just have the generically nice attributes of Grounds defensively, which most directly ties into resisting Mega Aerodactyl's Stone Edge, as opposed to other Waters who take more than they may like.
Cons:
  • There is a natural trade off to the two's defensive uses and overall utility, and it mostly relates to their lack of recovery. Short-term, the two have quite possibly the best one-on-one matchups against Mega Aerodactyl, resisting its strongest move and directly punishing it by using the opportunity to set rocks. However, that first part is the key. Swampert and Seismitoad are regularly expected to come into some common threats, and they inevitably get chipped over time. They can only handle these threats for so long, considering the fact that their only avenue of healing off the damage is Leftovers.
  • Going hand in hand with the point above is the pair's vulnerability to status. Simply put, relying on Leftovers to accumulate recovery over time to help handle threats they're supposed to in the long-term isn't all too effective if they catch a status move. The most common example is Toxic from things like Steels or whatever else, but there are also more awkward cases like attempting to check Entei. They supposedly deal with Entei, but getting burned by Sacred Fire is super super ungood since they basically don't get to come into it safely again. Besides drastically decreased longevity, it also means Swampert and Seismitoad get their shit walled by Mandibuzz, which traditionally has no business winning a one-on-one fight against the two if they carry Toxic. Blah blah Roost stall as you slowly die and it can sit there all day.

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Pros:
  • When you think of Tentacruel, it's hard not to envision its theoretically unmatched utility. The primary example is its access to Rapid Spin, and for those unfamiliar with the tier, the options are basically it, Mega Blastoise, or using Defog. Aside from a stray Jellicent, Ghosts aren't really a thing (Doublade aint spin blocking you), mainly due to the presence Pursuit Mega Aerodactyl, so Rapid Spin is undoubtedly the superior form of hazard removal between the two. It isn't a crazy good remover in of itself by any means because of its matchups versus common rockers, but it is a fantastic trait nonetheless. In that same vein, its also a Poison-type so clearly TSpikes on entry is pretty nice. Speaking of, Toxic Spikes are a bit past their prime given the rise of Roserade, but they still give Tentacruel another unique trait among bulky Waters, helping to make up for its lack of immediate offensive presence to some extent. Okay, yeah yeah Scalds broken so sure it can kinda threaten stuff if needed.
  • This one falls in the same line as utility and isn't as prevalent, but Tentacruel does have some solid flexibility in what you can get out of it. The only true locks on its moveset are Rapid Spin and Scald, but aside from that, there are a bunch of pretty cool options to choose from. I mentioned one earlier in the form of Toxic Spikes, and along with that, Toxic is a half decent option to help alleviate its somewhat passive nature, most notably punishing things like Seismitoad and Cresselia (cwl). Haze is one of the more common moves as well, but I would argue that is is much less of a necessity than a tier like SM which has Scizor. Nuff said. It's still nice for clearing the boosts of things like Suicune, non Zen Headbutt Cobalion, and Calm Mind Florges, which not many people use anymore but eh its nice. Knock Off is really really nice for general utility purposes. This thing may hit like a noodle but it can reasonably fit 2 broken moves on the same set so that's nice. There are other more niche options but the ones listed here are the jist.
Cons:
  • It was really really hard not to keep sprinkling into the pros section that Tentacruel is passive as shit, mostly relying on Scald, Knock Off, or its status moves to make some sort of impact in that area. Thing's just too weak. Beyond just giving up momentum, this passivity is espectially notable in areas like one-on-one matchups against Stealth Rock setters and not being able to truly punish its theoretical good matchups. As for the former, its pretty self-explanatory, Tentacruel doesn't do enough offensively to really threaten your common rockers like the Water/Grounds, Mega Aggron, Krookodile, Metagross, etc. etc. None of them appreciate a burn by any means, but are you sitting in there fishing for the 30? If you are then you're a dork and that's all. As for the latter, the fact that Tentacruels best move against bulky Fairies is hitting it for 22 with Scald and hoping for a burn is pretty sad. I mean, that's where all your spin opportunities and shit come from, then they just heal off the burn and pass free Wishes. Unfort.
  • Frustrating stats. It wasn't quite worth listing under pros, but Tentacruel is fast as shit for a bulky Water-type, and it can feasibly creep base 80s or higher while still accomplishing the main roles it is meant to. However, there is a massive trade off since Tentacruel's Defense is absolute dog dicks. Run enough Speed and you aren't even pretending to check much, mainly things such as non-Zen Cobalion (LOL) and Entei. You aren't great against them with Bold either because Tenta's passive as hell, but jesus they just destroy you. Along with these stats, its defensive typing, which does theoretically have some solid resistances, doesn't really do it any favors when it comes to handling common threats supposedly dealt with by Waters. The main example as per usual is Mega Aerodactyl and you'll need a bunch of back up against him.
SPOILER: the negatives outweigh the positives if it wasn't clear, but Tenta is fine enough because of what it does offer. You just need like, a ton of support around it defensively to be safe around the things it really can't deal with itself.

For the record I don't think I'm going to include things like Mega Blastoise or Mega Swampert, which despite their bulk, really turn toward the more offensive side of things. If I do continue this type of list, it would probably go into some of the more niche options. They still possess positive traits and selling points in their own right, but justifying them is generally more difficult than the ones listed to this point.
 

Pak

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Mega Aggron is Better (by a lot)
Mega Aggron and Mega Steelix have very understandably been seen as what is essentially 'brothers' since the latter's introduction in ORAS. Maybe not to the extent of Swampert and Seismitoad's similarities, but the two pairs do fall in that same general vein. They share almost identical stats and and only real notable changes are of course their slight type and ability changes, whilst basically fulfilling the same exact role on teams ranging from stall to bulky offense in ORAS UU. Mostly due to its far superior ability in Filter, Mega Aggron is almost universally agreed to be the better of the two in a vacuum, but very slightly. However, In my personal opinion, I don't really see them on that 'even footing' which they are generally believed to share. Mega Aggron is a solid amount better if not preferred the vast majority of the time, and here's why.

I know I know, people only put Mega Steelix if they need a Ground-type and can't or don't want to fit another one on the team alongside their Mega Steel-type. That's fine and makes sense. However, coming with that are a number of drawbacks that aren't considered as much as they should be. If you've played any Pokemon tier, especially where Pearl has resided, you've definitely heard just how important Steel-types are and how crucial they are for tying teams together defensively. It is no secret how crazy good of a typing it is on that end, and while you can theoretically patch together the responsibilities they usually take on, it's basically always preferred just to run a Steel and have more flexibility elsewhere. Yes, I'm aware Mega Steelix is still a Steel-type, but its Ground typing essentially offsets some of those common responsibilities they fulfill. The most notable drawback that comes to mind is its neutrality to Grass moves. ORAS UU has some really notable Grass-type threats, and chances are that balance teams with it as the Steel will be much worse off against them without jumping through hoops to avoid it. The two most apparent examples are Celebi and Roserade.

The former of which doesn't have any common move to effectively punish Mega Aggron, while Mega Steelix isn't a good check by any means. Sure, it'll do alright in a one-on-one matchup assuming it has some decent Attack investment since Celebi isn't doing too much unboosted, but that isn't a likely scenario at all. Celebi finds basically all of its setup opportunities on the teams other passive mons or just the ever-present bulky Water next to the Mega Steel. Now, there can still be other checks beyond Steels of course, but stuff like Scarf Hydreigon can obviously be sniped on the switch with a coverage move or simply be worn down over time, while not even killing it from full. If it doesn't have the appropriate counterplay, Nasty Plot Celebi can get out of hand faster than any other top tier offensive threat in the metagame. Remove a usual roadblock in a balance team's Steel-type, and things could get bleak real quick out of nowhere. Roserade is the other main one of course, and with there being a stark turn toward Spikes sets as opposed to Technician Hidden Power Fire, traditional Steels have never been better at handling it in most cases. Unless there's a Mandibuzz in the back, which is not common next to Mega Steels besides on stall teams due to its usual team structures that utilize it the best, Leaf Storms will never be more free. Throw a Meadow Plate on there and damn Scarfdreigon take that quick 50 or catch a Sleep Powder on the switch and end up in hotter water. This is made especially apparent by a couple of outside factors. Again, it is heavily implied that Mega Steelix will have a bulky Water- and Fairy-type core next to it, completing the generic ORAS balance trio of the three types. Roserade finds opportunities against both other defensive and presumably more passive members of the team. Lastly, the tier's main Pursuit users are Mega Aerodactyl and Krookodile. You may notice that you can't run Mega Aerodactyl and Mega Steelix on the same team, and that may be the reason I literally posted about regular Steelix in this same thread above. Second, you put Mega Steelix because you can't or won't put a different Ground-type, so yeah you won't have Krookodile. These balance teams without a buzzard have a really hard time minimizing the flower thing's offensive opporunities, where it keeps coming in and out, throwing out powerful attacks and applying pressure.

So yeah, theoretically, Mega Steelix is just a Mega Aggron with a worse ability and weakness to Scald (which I haven't touched on despite it also being ass), but if you add some additional context, there is a bigger gap than there may appear to be at a glance. Mega Aggron is the prototypical Steel-type in this metagame. It isn't going to fit on every time, but that's fine. It does everything you want a Steel-type to do defensively, it doesn't have many glaring weaknesses, it hits harder than your generic bulky Steel, and it provides the necessary utility. It is one of the better Stealth Rock setters in the tier, especially now, considering Roar is a far less valuable tool given the fall off of Sylveon. It can very feasibly run something like Heavy Slam, Earthquake, Stealth Rock, Toxic, and keep them up or pressure all removers in some capacity. Ideally you're not Earthquaking an Empoleon or Tentacruel in a one-on-one matchup, but the ability to threaten them in that case is important in itself. It doesn't have the STAB boost that Mega Steelix does of course, but it also isn't weak to the tier's most spammable move in Scald, somewhat conditioning them to Scald if the matchup does come about. Worst comes to worst, you take your Scald and get burned, and you can still get it healed off by the presumable Florges, while not being too weak to do anything later on like Steelix may be. In conclusion, I'd honestly rather either re-work the team to fit Mega Aggron over Mega Steelix, or simply forgo a Ground-type if absolutely needed than use the metal snake. Running into Rotom-C is pretty ass, but it isn't that common these days and is OHKO'd by Scald so I mean, peep this:
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Pak

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Klefki: From Banworthy to Irrelevance

Gen 6 Klefki has always been a pretty interesting case of a mon. For those unaware, it was actually BL for much of the generation. Considering Swagger also got banned very early on, it's a little head scratching to see just how long this thing was banned as well. Klefki is not a great option in the current state of ORAS, which I'll get into later, but I did some digging to shed some light on the key chain's timeline in the metagame. While I was playing when it was preliminarily banned under what came to be known as the 'Kokoloko system' of tiering, I was really just a Pokemon fetus at that point and mostly stuck to throwing shit at a wall on the XY OU ladder. I didn't have enough of a grasp on UU or Pokemon in general to form an educated opinion on the matter.

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For context on how much of a noob I was at the time, the second post actually took place on my 15th birthday and I had been playing competitively for about 3 months. Anyway, I still don't have a fantastic image in my head of the tier at the time and all that, so I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I know better in hindsight than the XY UU council did at the time. Above all else I just find the massive contrast between Klefki being considered banworthy and its current state in modern ORAS incredibly interesting. In late 2016 at the tail end of the generation, the council opted to try it out again, and it turned out about as one might expect, especially given how I've described it to this point.

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The key chain was unanimously council voted to be dropped back down into ORAS UU, following a 2.5 year sentence in BL hell. Again, I'm not trying to discredit the old council in saying this, and there were a number of more prominent issues to deal with in that course of time, but that kind of ban duration is shocking considering what Klefki and its current functionality is.

To this point, I've mentioned time and again how underwhelming Klefki is and that is due to a number of factors. Theoretically, it was a great addition to the tier, providing Spikes (cwl @ ORAS UU spikers beforehand), an emergency check to sweepers with Prankster Thunder Wave, and overall a solid defensive staple with its supposedly amazing defensive typing. As for the latter, it was especially apparent considering how controversial Hydreigon's presence was towards the end of ORAS UU. However, it remained UU following an incredibly close vote in one of the more combative discussion threads in recentish memory. Klefki theoretically offered ban supporters an additional means of dealing with the hydra that would supposedly fit into common team structures and fulfill a respectable niche. Like you may have guessed, that did not end up being the case.

I mean sure, by virtue of its typing, it does deal with Hydreigon fairly well, barring Fire Blasts from Scarf variants. That much is undeniable. However, where it fell through was that theoretical fit onto teams. People tried all they could to abuse the new 'toy', the tier's only real Spikes setter, and over time they settled upon the same type of team style. In hindsight, it does make sense, but given its typing and overall utility, there were high hopes that ultimately faltered. Below are the issues Klefki faced in finding proper fits onto teams:

Hypothetically, a Steel / Fairy defensive Pokemon should open tons of doors when it comes to team slot flexibility. In practice, it did not fulfill much of what either typing usually set out to do, really limiting its supporting options with the new responsibilities that they now had to take on by committee. Like I said, it's fine enough against Hydreigon, but there's another, let's call it controversial, presence that really puts a damper on things. It's no secret that Bulk Up Conkeldurr has an incredibly limited number of respectable counterplay, and the only typing that resists its usual Fighting STAB + Knock Off combination are Fairies. Klefki is part Steel...yeah. You aren't beating Bulk Up Conkeldurr without using some real fuck shit that's suboptimal in pretty much every other situation and even than its shaky. The bulky offense type teams Klefki ideally finds itself on can't really afford to throw on hard answers like Cresselia or Florges alongside it, and a Defog Crobat would make for awkward synergy on a team style meant to stack Spikes and take advantage of them. Conkeldurr and Speed needs are the main reasons Crobat does end up on Klefki teams, but again, even without Defog you probably aren't running a more passive Haze set on a more offensively inclined team. I mean, it + a Colbur Celebi or whatever could be worse against Conkeldurr since the two can keep up pressure on it and pick it off if its weakened, but I digress, it's still a loose matchup at best. Fitting Crobat brings about some other consequences. You absolutely don't want to have Defog, since 1. Defog Crobat is ass and 2. you want to keep your Spikes. Removal is still necessary alongside it considering its defensive value against Fighting-types given Klefki's uselessness there. That kind of implies one of the 2 spin options, Tenta or Blastoise. Both are fine enough, but its just another box to check in what you put on the team.

Well, that'll do it for its Fairy-type related bitching, onto its Steel typing. Klefki doesn't outright beat anything Steels are usually meant to. Pokemon you might resist moves from but you can't really threaten on a usual set unless you count T-Wave: Mega Aerodactyl, Celebi, Crobat, Roserade. These are some random examples, but its lack of immediate presence in dealing with them is obviously worse than preferred, especially against Celebi which doesn't care about TWave much at all. As I've said in the past, Celebi is one of the most unforgiving threats to play against if your team is ass against it, and guess what? If Klefki is your Steel, your team will almost surely be ass against it. Throw in a Water spinner, a Ground-type rocker, etc., and this thing is getting enough opportunities to really wreak havoc. It isn't a coincidence that this was a phase a good portion of people wanted Celebi banned while they continually tried to force Klefki onto teams. The Ground rocker next to it will take some pressure off against Aero, but again, it's just one more thing you need to incorporate that usual a Steel would help out against.

Now, its typing doesn't do it many favors, but the most crucial flaw in Klefki is that it is a DOGSHIT SPIKER HOLY SHIT. ORAS UU is kinda notorious for how limited its hazard removal options are, and how bad some of them are at their jobs, but the most hilarious irony is that Klefki doesn't actively keep Spikes on any of them. The two most egregious examples are Tentacruel, Forretress, and Defog Crobat. Tentacruel is known for being a passive piece of shit that takes up the utility-providing space it needs to here and there. Literally can't do anything against it barring hoping for para hax. Forretress is that one mon that pretends to offer a lot and doens't usually end up doing much of anything. The one thing it does do is keep them off against flipping Klefki and get up 3 layers of its own. Truly sad interaction. Defog Crobat: same shit. I mean, it doesn't want to be paralyzed by any means, but it may very well have a cleric next to it and the point remains that Klefki can't do shit to pressure it. Same kind of deal against Mandibuzz. Unless it drops some other important move to fit Toxic, Klefki can't pressure it either. Same goes for Mandibuzz but yeah its just an awkward cripple fight, and as a hazard setter, you want to remover to be on the backfoot. Klefki doesn't do that. Its hazard matchups are so bad that people like Pearl theorized a set featuring Choice-item + Switcheroo to cripple them, most notably Empoleon, Tenta, Forre, and Gligar. It is most likely the key chain's best set due to being a half decent spiker, but the flaws are obvious. You're giving up a moveslot, a consistent item, and immediate defensive uses in the name of keeping them up.

I'm getting lazy, but another big aspect is that Klefki wants like 14 moves on its set, and shockingly that isn't very doable. It's yet another flaw of the more-consistent Switcheroo sets. Btw Switcherooing yourself Black Sludge is another f in the chat for the keys. Yeah...I'm not a big fan of Klefki. Something worth mentioning is that it has seen some decent use on Rain Offense-ish geared teams (haha more 4MSS), but it and Crawdaunt have seen some of the biggest drop offs through the whole generation. They were banned for much of the gen, only to be dropped back down later on without much notable impact on the game-to-game metagame. Crawdaunt still has some merit and could be a topic of its own post, but its ultimately held back by its lack of defensive utility as a Water type in such a balance heavy tier. Klefki on the other hand has become more and more difficult to justify placing on teams, and I don't see that changing any time soon given its implied limitations on the rest of its teams.
 
Hi! Since I think I'm one of the few survivors from those XY days I figured I could provide some insight. First, as you prolly know the koko method was basically ban everything that was determined to be unhealthy right at the start and then start retesting shit, it was controversial at the time but then people found that it helped have a more balance meta. The supermajority thingy for retests was to be on the safer side (I compared it to the factor of safety used when calculating loads in construction). I think that was fine in general.
What happened in particular with Klefki was that it was originally banned because SwagPlay was dumb horseshit and everyone agrees with that I'm sure. When it was retested it was given a very short period of time so koko and LimitLess voted more on what they thought it could do than what they so it do. I cba to find the thread but I have the convo with the votes:

BL

So I'm largely making this judgement call on the idea of Klefki, rather than what I've actually seen in practice. From what I've personally seen in the metagame, people have just not been able to throw together the right combination of Klefki with other Pokemon. But just because a Pokemon isn't utilized correctly doesn't mean it's not broken. I can confidently say that I'm 90% sure some broken combination will emerge with Klefki. Whether that be through the Calm Mind set (which FLCL has used to success with), screen/spike/twave, or rain dance set. Even further, Klefki is able to be on virtually any type of team. It can be utilized on stall, balance, and offense. On stall and balance it is actually a useful counter to many Pokemon, including the very difficult to counter Heracross. On offense, it is a viable Pokemon to check setup users, while providing extremely useful resistances.

Like I said, Klefki may not be broken in practice for now, but I'm very confident it will be seen as broken if we just give it time. And if I'm that confident it is potentially broken, then I'm just going to expedite the process and vote BL.


BL

I'm voting BL because I am truly uncertain of Klefki's placement due to how incredibly varied the sets I've come across are. What I mean is that throughout the past couple of weeks, I've encountered quite a few move combinations which made me think "damn, if it was running x move over y move, I'd be totally fucked" (moves which were totally viable and usable in the given set, btw), but at the same time... I didn't. However, given the tiering structure which is designed to place uncertainty in BL, I have to go with BL (which sucks cause Klefki is an amazing Staraptor check :[).

I'm also not a fan of priority Thunder Wave at all--it gives people an out when they play carelessly, something which I don't believe is good for the meta in general.


In retrospect, those votes can be considered questionable especially because they ended up being super important to get the 5 votes to keep it unbanned. The other one were as follows:

BL

okay, going against the general consensus. my problem with klefki is that is puts the option of super fast suicide spikestacking into the tier, and does it far better than any other pokemon in the tier. it's like froslass was in UUs past. it's really fkin hard to stand up to these offensive teams when there are almost guaranteed 2 layers of spikes. the comparison to froslass in gen 5 is a little bit different obviously because defog now exists and klefki can't block its own spin, along with there actually being some decent spinners in xy. the point still stands though that with klefki existing it puts you at a ridiculous disadvantage if you don't carry a spinner or defogger. sure, there are other spikers in the tier, but none of them put up hazards with the ease that prankster allows. klefki is also moderately bulky and is not dead weight after his suicide spikes are down. a 1% klefki is still dangerous because priority t-wave (as seen in OU) is a one-time guaranteed stop to pretty much any sweeper in the tier.

tldr i think as a rule that having a good suicide spiker that will consistently net at least 2 layers is unhealthy for most any metagame, and even with good hazard removal in uu i think klefki, while not overtly broken, is better off bl.


BL

So I kinda thought it might be a bit too much support before I even tried it, but after I put together a defensive team (which prolly sucks; no T-spikes absorber and weak to CM Reuni, while Ass Vest Donphan is still super weak to special hits, it's great offensively tho) I could see that it gets way too many chances to set up stuff due to its amazing typing. Spikes are simply annoying and the only spinner that switches in without issue is Donphan (well, Nat Cure Starmie too, but that has issues with spinblockers as is), while defoggers aren't common enough after Zapper's departure—seriously, I dunno where you got that Defog completely wrecked it when the only common ones are Mew and Mega Aero, neither of which enjoy getting paralyzed. I used a simple set of Reflect / Spikes / Dazz Gleam / T-Wave with a Bold nature, with Wish support from Umbreon it was very easy to keep healthy and it always had two mons where it could come in almost for free.
While I used it on semi-stall, I can't think it would be worse in HO teams, since those can usually just break through stuff before getting the chance to spin. It's kinda a combination of Azelf and Froslass but without their unique traits (priority makes up for it tho).
Also, priority T-Wave needs a separate paragraph. There are so many completely deadly sweepers that can get completely wrecked by prio T-Wave (as shown here), and while that is a godsend for my teams—fuck VenoKing tho—I'm not sure it's super healthy for the metagame.

Tl;dr: Key opens way too many doors in one. Easy to get in, easy to keep healthy, annoying as hell to beat. Nice Honch check, tho!


BL | Rip Klefki

Priority spikes/twave/screens/weather setting alone is very good but in conjunction with decent typing and staying power, klefki really is a problem. Klefki really doesn't have much in terms of offense besides running an okay sub cm set on stall but it really doesn't need to be anything more than a prankster support poke. It can be put on any type of team and be effective. Unlike the common suicide hazard leads in uu, klefki gets up hazards way easier due to prankster/decent bulk and can spread para easily to cripple offensive teams and defoggers.


As you can see particularly from my vote, the meta was completely different back then which made me be pretty sure of my decision. This vote turned into a whole discussion in IS where Aldaron questioned koko and I jumped in to defend the system—while thinking in this case it had actually ended up being bad. Due to that I experienced a full two days as tier co-leader before being kicked out for insulting Aldaron x_x

Anyway no idea why it took so long to allow it back after that, a LOT changed with ORAS so it could've prolly been retested much earlier.

Hope this helped, although it might've caused even more confusion lol.

EDIT: Oh and I forgot, for the record I still think priority T-Wave was super borked in gen VI (no miss chance and no Dark-types being immune), just less so than Scald/Sacred Fire and Knock Off.
 
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Bouff

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Ernesto that limitless vote brings back a lot of trauma, i remember it being memed a lot for its dumb reasoning. i had no idea he considered it a hera counter though, jesus christ. i'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt on that end, maybe.......maybe. because maybe scarf hera was the main set around that time - i wanna say the uupl meta back then had scarf hera be more common to rk mega houndoom which was prob the best mon alongside victini back then since hydreigon was still bl then, or at least for a portion of that tour. my memory might be awful and i'm misremembering this entirely. later on during the summer cb hera became way more common and was one of the top wallbreakers tho, but like regardless keys is not a hera counter in any universe even for scarf, even in that time where people had a completely different approach to building than they do now. i mean you do mention it as a honchkrow answer and back then honchkrow was pretty good.

anyhow more on topic, taking a bit into how klefki has been used in recent tours, for the most part it's seen success the most on rain teams as pak mentioned - there are a few off kilter balances where it's used, but obviously it pales in comparison to the usage of other steels. i did wanna expand on this a bit because it's an interesting dynamic and is probably where klefki "shines" the most.





embedded the replays into the images for further reference. as you can probably tell these builds are sort of similar in framework, since it is rain after all. the team wanka used is much more fast paced than the other two, but mega pert (obviously) and celebi are seen on all three of these teams. klefki functions basically as you'd expect it to, it uses the utility moves as necessary and then gets dropped. it doesn't really check anything that well (though it does pressure wanka's cm florges in pepe's game) but unlike when people slap it onto balances, you can afford that sort of? it's not the most consistent thing on these builds but rain in general is inconsistent. it doesn't really work as a solo setter as well, with mega pert and tornadus usually being the other ones. similarly this is pretty much where tornadus functions the best, specs hurricane is very annoying to deal with and non specs set have a bit more leeway and are more comfortable in setting rain up by itself. only thing here is that it usually doesn't very last long thanks to the obvious factors in sr and maero pursuiting it. there is probably a bit more to expand on here, admittedly i don't have much experience with rain in itself since it's so weird, but if you are looking to use klefki this is probably the best way to go about it, though obviously you are not using rain because you want to use the keys as opposed to the actual abusers lol.
 

Pak

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Gyarados and the Troubles of One-Time Sweepers

By popular demand, aka bouff asking me, today we'll talk about Gyarados. Spoiler, I recently remade my list for the viability rankings, and Gyarados ended up a lot lower than what most people would think. Since its introduction into the tier, Gyarados has long been seen as a top 10 Pokemon and one of the bigger threats the tier has to offer. However, it runs into a number of issues that prevent it from attaining that kind of status on a game-to-game basis. Additionally, I don't think the majority of these issues are exclusive to Gyarados. Many of the factors holding it back apply pretty easily to the tier's other offensive Water-types, being your Feraligatrs, Crawdaunts, and to a lesser extent, Mega Sharpedo and Rain Dance Mega Swampert. Throughout pretty much the entirety of this thread, I've talked time and time again just how crucial bulky Water-types are in gluing balance teams together defensively. It's no secret that ORAS UU is an incredibly balance-heavy tier. The most consistent team styles continually tie into the notion of strong defensive backbones in combination with offensive mons that possess some sort of defensive utility in their own right. There are 9000 boxes to check when it comes to ORAS UU building, and throwing on a defensive zero in the form of x offensive threat really limits your possibilities. Checking what you need to, attaining some kind of goal, and being cohesive as a whole gets much much harder in building. For that reason, while they'll have their good matchups, as most respectable offensive threats will hopefully, utilizing those one-time sweepers can be really hard to put into practice in a consistent manner. For an easy example, say you have a generic Mega Aerodactyl, Florges, Steel, etc. balance team, but you throw on a Feraligatr where the usual bulky Water resides. You're taking the defensive glue and essentially invalidating it. Feraligatr has some serious sweeping potential in the right places, but your in-game options suddenly way more limited, especially in the face of Pokemon such as Mega Aerodactyl, Entei, Krookodile, Steels, etc. It can take them on one-on-one if needed, but obviously it wants to remain healthy in hopes of keeping its sweep chances in tact.

So here's where we tie back to Gyarados. Now, Gyarados actually does differentiate itself to some extent from those other aforementioned 'one-time sweepers' (Feraligatr/Lucario/Slurpuff/etc.). While it isn't directly taking on Mega Aerodactyl and the goons that Waters generically help against, it does possess some type of defensive utility. It's nothing crazy, but it isn't an absolute zero, helping it out in fitting onto teams to some extent. By virtue of its typing and Intimidate, it can help out against some dudes like Mega Swampert (unless your name is Stallion), non-Stone Edge Cobalion (Stone Edge literally only hits Gyara), non-Thunder Punch CB Conkeldurr, and Heracross. It isn't fantastic by any means, but it can take up that role if it comes down to it, much better than say, Feraligatr, will usually offer. But again, much of what I talked about above does apply when it comes to team fits. However, it still runs into some issues. Anyone who follows this tier at all realizes the current prominence of Mandibuzz and Mega Aerodactyl. Barring some serious bullshit, Gyarados will not beat a Foul Play Mandibuzz, and the type of teams it finds itself on generally aren't well-equipped to weaken or remove it entirely. As for Mega Aerodactyl, it of course outruns Gyarados at +1 Speed, and is simply always looming in the background to prevent a potential sweep down the line. Slowkings also kind of a dick because Bounce is a bad move but necessary to run. Speaking of Bounce, it makes Gyarados's alleged 'autowins' a lot hairier than they would be otherwise. It can be seen in games like Garay Flamita in UUWC, where it theoretically has a fantastic matchup, but it ultimately fails in pulling off the sweep, even after Flamita wins some '5050s' that are heavily weighed in his favor.

Now, Gyarados is still a good Pokemon and has its uses. As I mentioned above, it is probably a cut above the other sweepers due to its existing yet limited defensive utility. I've made some use of it myself in the past, but its underwhelming presence has ended up souring my opinion on it. However, my most commonly used set is actually a Resttalk defensive set featuring Roar in the last slot. I've used it in UUPL and other tours maybe 4-5 times and its been fine enough as a strong Fighting check and a resilient phazer. In a vacuum, it's a good option, but the issue holding it back is its Stealth Rock weakness and lack of synergy with hazard removers not named Forretress. Forretress is not a good remover by any means, and you end up pretty weak to Mega Aerodactyl by virtue of both your Steel and Water being pretty ass against it. Aside from that, I tried a Dragon Dance set once and it ended up being sacked for Intimidate in a won game. The Intim ended up coming into play, but obviously you aren't putting a DD Gyara on your team for a one-off Intimidate sack. It even had a nb matchup on paper, but it couldn't really scrape together good enough opportunities between its rocks weakness and getting chunked by defensive pokes who had an Aero sitting in the back. Overall, it was not a good team looking back, partially because I tried to combine so many ideas into one squad, but Gyarados's lack of defensive uses limited the team even further. Albeit it was back in Sylveon meta, where subbing against deceptively strong Hyper Voices was not cool, I opted for a Lum 3 atk set featuring Earthquake. The most common set is sub DD dual STAB, which I was convinced was not the best set, considering the aforementioned presence of Sylveon, as well as phazers like Empoleon running around to Roar out Sylveon and accidentally resisting both of Gyarados's moves. These days I'd probably agree that it's the better set if you were to make use of it. Roar is much less crucial on Empoleon and Gyara really appreciates the passive recovery as it shrugs off Moonblasts from Florges. Sub really helps it skew those supposed Bounce 5050s into your favor and it also helps out against Seismitoad, which of course doesn't learn or run Roar like defensive Swamperts of old commonly used to. It's still a good pick within the tier in a vacuum, and maybe it's just me, but it is really tough to fit it onto teams in the current meta given its balance-oriented and bulky Water-type-reliant nature.
 

Pak

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Conkeldurr's One Counter is a Bad Pokemon

Ugh. Cresselia. There have been a bunch of occasions where I've alluded to how underwhelming it is in my mind, but I don't think I've ever made a real deep dive when it comes to shitting on the legendary moon duck. This most commonly comes about because of Bulk Up Conkeldurr's notoriously limited methods of strong counterplay. I mean, Cresselia is. Beyond that, it is perhaps the only Conk check that can confidently say it deals with Bulk Up and Choice Band sets simultaneously. Crobat risks eating an Iron Fist Ice Punch on the initial switch and Florges is vulnerable to potential Poison Jabs. The way Choice Band sets can play off of the threat of Bulk Up is a big reason why the former are so effective. There's almost nothing scarier than an unrevealed Conk, as it could just as easily nuke its 'counter' as it could simply Knock it off and hope to outlast it long-term. Cresselia is essentially the one mon that doesn't have to worry much at all. CB Knock Off still does a decent chunk, but the duck can easily just heal it off and take less the next sequence after losing its item. While cucking Conkeldurr is the primary selling point behind Cresselia, on paper it deals with a decent amount of other threats, pretty much by virtue of its ridiculous bulk, possessing very few weaknesses, and having the ability to boost up with Calm Mind.

Alright so what's the issue? The thing must be an unkillable demon that offers teams a wincon that can outlast its theoretical counterplay when its paired with some good support!! I did just go on a 1000 word tangent about how crucial defensive utility is when it comes to Pokemon finding fits on strong and consistent ORAS UU teams, and Cresselia isn't lacking that by any stretch of the imagination. However, all of this can be said in vaccuum, and it doesn't apply all too well to its game-to-game effectiveness. It'll without a doubt take up the defensive space it needs to on whatever team, consistently dealing with the Conks or whatever else, depending on the moves it opts to run. Signal Beam lets it counter Celebi, Psyshock leaves it better against other Calm Minders and Gyarados, status moves help it out against the Aeros of the world, etc. It even has that kind of versatility to shore up some weaknesses of a given team. However, no combination of moves will prevent it from being what is essentially dead weight in many matchups. It has nothing in its back of tricks, barring incredibly gimmicky shit that ultimately undermine its defensive uses (Flame Orb Psycho Shift, Trick + Choice item, etc.), that will allow it to deal with its usual counterplay, primarily in the form of Steel-types. Those shits find places on every team and sit on you all day and there's nothing to do about it. For every time Cresselia comes in and heals off a Conkeldurr or Mega Aerodactyl or whatever attack, it does wall them long term, but it sacrifices momentum to do so. There's no way to apply pressure to these Steels without not clicking Moonlight to double out on them instead. Don't heal and naturally Cresselia is much worse off as a long-term check, preventing it from fulfilling its main role and selling point for teams.

Hehe so what, just remove the Steel and Cresselia wins right? Simply put, no. While they are the best and most consistent answers, its counterplay isn't limited to the 1 team slot. In fact, you could see 3ish solid answers without much being out of the ordinary, and all it takes to fulfill the 'Cress killer' title is having access to status moves...so literally anything that can reasonably fit them. I say this a lot, but Cresselia is another Pokemon OHKOd by Scald. ORAS burn is pretty flipping broken, and if Cresselia gets Knocked Off or is running Colbur or something, then it is really really apparent. As mentioned time and time again, there are bulky Water-types on most teams in the metagame, and the only one that Cresselia immediately threatens without 800 Calm Minds up is Tentacruel of all things. Beyond Scald, Toxic is of course one of the most widely distributed moves in the game. If Cresselia eats a Toxic, its basically dead. As I just alluded to, it needs boosts to threaten pretty much anything, hell even sp def Conkeldurr, and between healing off moves and finding turns to click Calm Mind, it becomes a lost cause real quick. Cresselia's longevity and defensive reliability pretty much go straight in the shitter. The few times I've been building and even considered Cresselia as a potential threat, I've legitimately just found a mon to throw Toxic on and bzzzzing, the matchup is 100% fine. Most of those come by way of using Cobalion, which is the 1 Steel Cress isn't super ass against. Even then, it isn't a fantastic check to Cobalion the Fighting sweeper, as hilarious it sounds, unless it has Psychic. It'll usually win the 1v1, but it the opp just needs a bit of luck and suddenly it can snowball from there.

For a quick example, look at my flagship Mandiqueen Rose team. At an absolute glance, it looks like Cress could potentially have a really good matchup. I mean, it wins 1v1 against Nidoqueen, Roserade, Aero, Cobalion, and even Mandibuzz. Alright so where's the shortcoming? Slowking just sits there in the back throwing out Toxics and essentially neutering any potential it has as a sweeper. Slowking is one of the absolute worst mons to face for it, especially since Regenerator makes it ridiculously hard to pressure. Again, it can't do anything about it besides its own one-off Toxic, which makes it even further dead weight against Steels, removes any 'sweeping potential' (generous term), and prevents it from having any offensive presence. Aside from Slowking, it isn't even like Cresselia is some unbeatable monster for the others. Yes, it's one-on-one matchups there are good. However, it can't continually throw itself into the powerful attacks of Nidoqueen, Roserade, and Adamant Crunch Aero. Sludge Wave isn't 2HKOing or anything, but it does enough that Cress has to keep clicking Moonlight, and its low PP allows Nidoqueen to sit in and burn those recovery moves. Something something unboosted STAB Psychic moves aren't doing that much to you even if they attack. Roserade can dent with Leaf Storm or Poison with Sludge Bomb, which of course is essentially a Scald burn, leaving it worse off in handling Nidoqueen, Aero, and Cobalion. Tee off on this do-nothing piece of shit enough and suddenly Cobalion can reasonably break through, chances being that they don't have much better of a Cobalion check beside it.

TLDR: passive legendary psychic duck can't hit steels and is ohkod by status, gg in oras uu
 

Pak

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Escavalier: The Commonly Miscast Actor

Hmm, Escavalier. I've had very mixed opinions on this mon in the past, and its case isn't super comparable to really anything else. The thing is that Escavalier is a really nice theoretical option. It has always been the sturdiest Celebi counter around, which is not quite as dominant as it used to be, but providing teams a long-term answer to a top 3 threat in the tier is always appreciated. It also sees many opportunities to come in and throw out attacks by virtue of the tier's reliance on bulky Fairy-types due to the presence of Hydreigon and Conkeldurr. This thing can obviously shrug off Moonblasts all day long and it doesn't have the most straight forward counterplay. Its strong collection of viable moves ranging from STAB Megahorn and Iron Head, Knock Off, Pursuit, Drill Run, Swords Dance, etc. accomplish all that it could ever want given its stats and supposed role. Well, U-turn would be reeeeeally nice but I digress. In recent teams it can be even more valuable given the rise of Roserade. It's no secret I'm a big advocate the flower thing, but one thing that does irk me about the rise aside from myself is that people tend to pencil in Spikes no matter what on their movesets. I mean, Forretress is pretty bad so missing out on hitting it instead of getting perma-walled and spun on isn't the worst thing in the world, but Escavalier coming in for free again and again can be ungood to say the least. It and the immediate hit on things like Metagross and Doublade are pretty noteworthy when it comes to justifying Technician HP Fire Rose, which is of course the alternative to a hazard on Roserade. Losing out on Natural Cure matters a decent amount in a tier plagued by Scald, but the thing is that nothing immediately threatens Water Steel Fairy defensive cores quite as immediately as a Sleep Powder 3 atk Rose. Anyway, moving on from this tangent, the trend away from that Roserade set has really opened some doors for Escav. It has yet another commonly relied on mon that it can directly abuse. Its one-on-one matchups against the tier's two most prominent offensive Grasses make it a strong partner for the omnipresent bulky Water-types next to it, and that has never been more of the case to this point.

Alright I just gassed it and its respectable role up for a paragraph, so what's the issue? It mostly stems from Escavalier's simply put, weird, defensive typing. Forretress runs into similar issues, since the two are Steels that don't resist Rock or Flying. Mega Aerodactyl is as prominent as ever, so even though the theoretical bulky Waters can handle it, you do usually end up a bit looser than you'd prefer. As for Flying, you really do need a Rock-type next to Escavalier so Crobat doesn't come in and out without having much to directly pressure it. Beyond that, based on its move slot choices, it can open up some inevitable offensive opportunities to some threats, the main one being Cobalion. Now, if Escavalier is your Steel, implying no Doublade, and your Water needs to be a strong answer to Mega Aerodactyl, implying no Slowking and usually a Seismitoad or whatever, it can be pretty tough to fit decent counterplay to the fast Fighting sweeper. It isn't the most prominent issue ever, but without Drill Run, Escavalier is entirely walled and simply hands it opportunities to come in and sweep, or make dents to sweep later. While this mostly applies to the at-times-awkward defensive typing, I've mostly thought Escavalier has so-to-speak been a square peg forced into round holes. Other Steels can either set hazards, remove them, provide more traditional Steel-type defensive utility, etc. In my opinion at least, its status as the tier's most sturdy Celebi answer has propelled its usage to levels I'd consider undeserved. Generally speaking, there are usually Steels that provide better skillsets to common team structures, barring specific circumstances.

Now, this isn't one of those posts where I give the theoretical advantages then shit on them entirely for the rest of the post. Like I said, I've been mixed on it in the past because I knew it does have some merit. It isn't the most universally applicable skillset, but it exists nonetheless. Something I've done a lot of over the last couple years was theorize the hypothetical advantages of Rhyperior. Despite the presence of Scald and bulky Waters yata yata, it provides teams some interesting utility in the form of a respectable Mega Aerodactyl check, direct Crobat abuse, and secondary Entei answer. It also has the offensive capabilities to threaten most hazard removers with the right moveset, making it a pretty solid option. It's worth mentioning here because it shores up Escavalier's two most noteworthy defensive shortcomings without involving the team's bulky Water slot. It of course gives teams a formidable Rock and Flying resist, essentially taking that burden off the Steel slot that generally accepts it. In return, Escavalier can provide the team with its various positive attributes, primarily its ability to counter offensive Grasses. Rhyperior has opened doors for it that would be mostly unexpected at an absolute glance.

I haven't used a ton of Escavalier, because like I said the circumstances need to be perfect, but the best example I have is a team I made during UUPL. The goal here isn't to gas myself up or whatever, but it's really the one time I've made use of Escav and been 100% satisfied. The game can be found here. I of course made use of the aforementioned Rhyperior, as it took up the necessary defensive space and most notably freed up the bulky Water slot to be a bit looser versus Mega Aerodactyl. The Mega Blastoise set opted for was defensive RestTalk Scald Rapid Spin; something that hadn't seen any real usage in tournaments to that point. It has some ridiculous synergy going with Escavalier. It completely shuts out bulky Steel-type rockers on the other side, winning the hazard war entirely at the same time, and is only really answered by Florges or Grasses. Escavalier does pretty flipping well versus both, and since RestTalk Mega Blastoise really dictates the pace of the game in its favor, Escavalier can continually prey on these offensive opportunities. Megahorn, Iron Head, and Drill Run hit essentially the entire tier, especially when further complemented by SD. One could feasibly argue that Pursuit would be the better option considering it fits best alongside these Waters like Suicune and RestTalk Blastoise here that despise the presence of offensive Grasses. For Suicune, that could be true, but in this case, a healthy Escavalier can get out of hand really fast with this kind of support alongside it. Not much outright OHKOs it aside from strong Fire moves, which of course aren't too much of an issue for the rest of the team. The other thing that sticks out to me is how even though Escavalier naturally brings about a weakness to Cobalion, SD Drill Run is the best at mitigating that impending threat. A boosted Drill Run can at least prock the Shuca Berry and weaken it a bit, then something faster can pick it off after it presumably drops its defenses with Close Combat.

An overarching point of this post is simply to think outside the box if you want to make use of this thing. Chances are, it will not fit into a generic balance team as adequately as another Steel. It can be extremely effective if used in the right role, but that is often not the case. I mean, would you cast Alexandra Daddario as the angry old lady in your romcom? I would certainly hope not and everyone involved would suffer as a result. That's the first kind of thought that comes to mind when I see stuff like Escavalier + Mandibuzz or some other awkward, redundant defensive combination that doesn't properly take advantage of its entirely unique skillset.
 
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[insert clever phrase here]

(love u dad)

I think in it's history Jellicent hasn't seen too much usage because it offers a more specific utility set than a lot of other bulky waters in oras uu. It's also a bulky water weak to knock off, but my main point(s) are that it doesn't set and/or control hazards, and it does not check bulk up conk. To quickly compare lets look at some others. Swampert sets rocks, seismetoad sets rocks, tentacruel spins and sets t spikes, empoleon defogs, mega blastoise spins, slowking checks conk, and suicune is dogshit anyways. While jellicent does none of the things that bulky waters in oras uu typically do, it does pretty much beat every single one of these mons 1v1 while also beating any bulky fairy and steel 1v1 as well, which is hella massive. It is difficult to make effective cores with it though because you're essentially sacrificing a set of utility for another so inefficient cores end up being made to compensate or you end up without hazard control completely (which can actually work). The set is fairly straight forward:

Jellicent (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Water Absorb
EVs: 248 HP / 116 Def / 144 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Hex
- Recover
- Will-O-Wisp
- Taunt


The speed is enough to creep 16 speed Florges because beating that mon is incredibly important in order to hault opponents from negating any burns you've dished out. Also it simply allows you to just beat the mon 1v1. Speaking of ORAS burn though, jellicent is another victim of spreading it like I spread mustard on my salami and cheese sandwhiches. Jellicent just has an uncanny ability to just sit on teams and quite literally just keep clicking willo wisp because there isn't much reason not to. Especially against teams more BO oriented teams that rely on weak mons like whimsicott to check waters since they can't directly switch into wisp with a breaker. Back to sitting on teams though, more specifically a lot of the common cores ORAS has formulated like empoleon + slowking, Florg + mandibuzz + slowking, Florg + seismetoad, or just any steel + water + fairy in general gets owned by this mon. I would say be careful about playing too linear with this mon though, because you dont want to hard into a slowking/steel and catch a toxic unless you really need to atm. Pairing it with florg is probably best in that case for cleric support yada yada.

I don't mean to make jelli sound like the next coming of christ though because again you're essentially sacrificing sets of utility with your bulky water slot and jelli teams, for lack of better words, come out weird.. I think the best ones end up sacrificing hazard control to be able to create more stable cores that can effectively stack hazards themselves and put the onus on your opponent to defog and jelli ofc spinblocks if you come across a tentacruel/ build or the occasional forretress. Here is a framework made by papa Pak:

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Two things are noticeable at a glance. 1. the aforementioned lack of hazard control and 2. no volt switch immunity. Luckily voltturn is more or less a forgotten archetype although you may see it very rarely used. I really do like this core though because of how well it beats down opposing waters, hazard stacks, and can still check a lot of the premier threats in the meta. I would hesitate to say jelli builds offer crazy amounts of consistency, but I think the mon really inverts a lot of common matchups you can pull in this meta, which makes it deserving of a spotlight.











 
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Pak

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Mega Aerodactyl: where u going boy
Mega Aerodactyl is one of the true staples of ORAS UU, as shown by it being #1 in usage during the most recent UUPL and also me mentioning its presence in this thread 900 separate occasions. It taking the crown in usage is especially impressive considering that it is in fact a Mega Evolution, meaning there is theoretically always some kind of opportunity cost in opting for it, given its competition. It offers teams a number of valuable traits, offering Speed/revenge killing, Pursuit, or a late-game sweeper with Hone Claws, among others. However, the one I intend to focus on in this that second point, because it is arguably its biggest impact on the rest of the tier.

Choice Band Krookodile has seen a decent drop off, but due to the looming threat of Pursuit Aero, there are a decent amount of mons weak to it that become increasingly hard to justify. Because of this drawback, they'll fall into the general category of what I'll usually refer to as 'inconsistent threats'. They simply won't be consistently effective on a game-to-game basis, and as I've said again and again, good teambuilding in such a constrained tier continually ties back to that aspect. If one of your key threats, which chances are you won't fit many of on a usual team, is vulnerable enough to Pursuit for it to end up being a non-factor, then it usually won't be worth running. Are there times where that isn't the case? Absolutely. In fact, I've made use of some of these main examples on a number of occasions, but they were tournament best of 1s, and naturally they didn't always go that well. Anyway, enough generalities. The main mons I'm referring to when speaking of these Pursuit-induced inconsistencies are Mega Beedrill, Chandelure, and Hoopa.

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Viability wise, and simply from a historical standpoint, Mega Beedrill is a cut above the others. The key difference with it is that it runs into some other prevalent issues alongside Mega Aerodactyl's presence. The main ones lie in its weakness to rocks and lack of defensive utility. It's honestly pretty tough to put together a Mega Beedrill team that provides it with the necessary support, remains cohesive overall, and lastly, actually accomplishes some kind of goal. It's pretty easy to fall into that trap in this tier where you're essentially running down a check list instead of finding a group of mons that have the right mix of offensive and defensive synergy. While it is possible to fit something functional around Mega Beedrill, it is fairly inconsistent in of itself, which makes dedicating the whole team to supporting it not always worth it. This is where Mega Aerodactyl comes in. If it goes up against the flying fossil, then it becomes increasingly tricky to play through certain scenarios. The main one is that ORAS Mega mechanics are dog shit, so it has to run Protect to provide itself chances to get its Speed. That's where things get awkward with Aero on the other side. They can simply hard Mega Aerodactyl on a supposedly forced Protect, so it becomes a 5050 of sorts whether to predict that and U-turn, which in turn opens the possibility of dying to the fastish thing in front of it. Aside from that, you're pretty much forced to click U-turn without fail, something that isn't exactly ground breaking and it's only made more apparent with a Pursuit Mega Aerodactyl in the back. Considering its ridiculous usage, it really does cut into Mega Beedrill's consistency as a threat, making it an increasingly tough mon to justify at the moment.

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Chandelure and Hoopa are in a similar boat. They're obviously offensive Ghosts that can theoretically run a decent number of sets between them, but they all run into Pursuit-related issues to some extent. It's worth noting that these examples aren't solely dampered by Mega Aero, as Krookodile similarly traps them, but they too are victims of Aero's widespread popularity. Theoretically, the two Ghosts have a solid number of viable sets at their disposal. It's such an amazing offensive typing that its hard not to have some high potential in certain matchups through their raw power on top of it. However, non-sub sets are incredibly good at just getting trapped after denting a mon or two. The two are all but forced to run Substitute + their respective set up moves to grasp for some semblance of consistency, and even then, they still can't OHKO Mega Aero even after rocks. Its sheer presence makes justifying either even more difficult than it would be otherwise for mons that are also preyed on by the ever-rising Mandibuzz. I mean, if you look at a scout of an opponent and see 60% Aero usage, you throwing Hoopa on your team and risking getting Pursuited for nothing? I definitely tried in the past and got fucked.

One of the only things gen 8 got right was removing Pursuit, as it naturally provided mons previously weak to it with new-found opportunities. Trapping is simply put: fucking stupid, and when I played the current gen, I certainly didn't miss the constant 5050s brought about by it. It was made especially apparent given its popularity in the two prior generations, and Mega Aero certainly did its part in coming close to invalidating what would otherwise be some pretty cool mons in that time frame.


When your opp brings Hoopa into your Mandibuzz + Aero
 

Pak

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Empoleon the Enabler

I've kind of realized a lot of these posts have boiled down to shitting on some mon to hopefully turn people off of either using it altogether or generally in the wrong role or situation. I mean it's a fine way of 'educating' people on those subjects and what to avoid when trying to put together their own teams, but that's only part of the equation. Side note: it's honestly impressive I never made one about Bronzong to this point but that's a topic for another day. You obviously want to use good Pokemon/frameworks/etc. to get the most of out building in this tier, especially considering how constrained it is, and I intend to focus a bit more on those in the near future assuming I don't get busy as shit with school and other stuff.

Something I've realized more and more over the last couple years is just how much Empoleon enables on its usual frameworks. I believe I've talked some about this in my Mandiqueen Rose RMT and stuff, but realistically there are only so many truly consistent team styles and frameworks. Not every Pokemon is equally viable and when it comes to effectively taking on some of the tier's dominant threats like Conkeldurr, Hydreigon, and Celebi, it's only natural that certain combinations will be better equipped in doing so, while actually accomplishing something and not treating the teambuilder like a checklist.

This is where things are a little weird. Shouldn't a Pokemon that I've said barely counts as either a Water or Steel in a tier with such limited teambuilding options be more of a hinderance than anything? In a way, yes, but overall, Empoleon's near-unmatched utility and unique one-on-one matchups more than offsets that type of thought process that would theoretically make perfect sense. I mean, just look at it. It is a bulky Water-type that doesn't do the usual things like check Entei and Mega Aerodactyl by any stretch, and it is a Steel-type that again, doesn't check Mega Aero, and also doesn't resist Grass, a huge negative in a tier where Celebi is so common. However, teambuilding in this game goes far beyond a Pokemon's stats, typing, and overall power level at a glance. Context is incredibly important, and it is largely the reason that Empoleon was considered a top 10 option in the most recent viability rankings.

Despite its awkward typing, it does have a lot to offer. I've referred to the tier's incredibly limited hazard removal options time and time again, and Empoleon finds itself as one of the easiest to fit with its access to Defog. Beyond that, it is a hazard removal option that actually wants to run it, and that's where its usual team frameworks come in. Crobat is a notoriously dog shit Defog user. That is due to its poor one-on-one matchups against pretty much all rockers in the tier in addition to its usual 4MSS. This thing wants every move under the sun, and Bulk Up Conkeldurr's presence in tier makes it running a bulky Haze Acrobat set a near given, since usually you aren't using this thing alongside a bulky Fairy (that less so has to do with general fit than awkward synergy, ie: fitting another hazard remover to free up bat from doing so is tough, among others. Sky Plate Brave Bird U-turn Taunt Roost and shit are nice, but fitting them is pretty rare). Anyway, there are very few things in the tier that are as easy to abuse as Defog Haze Acrobat. There legitimately could not be a more passive glue to put on a supposed bulky offense team that it'll usually find itself on, since 1) it can't fit U-turn and 2) it can't keep rocks off for itself so it sits there Roosting more than anything. As for the latter point, Conk teams can just throw up some rocks and double once or twice, then the Crobat user is entirely on the back foot. Empoleon alleviates all of this, letting Crobat play in a more upbeat style, not worrying about clearing hazards for itself and being much better equipped to get its hard-hitting teammates into favorable positions, which is by far the best way to use it.

Admittedly, Empoleon has taken a mild step back in this regard, but it also finds itself as one of the absolute best teammates for Conkeldurr. This mostly refers to its traditional Bulk Up set, but based on the build and what it can afford defensively, there are other, more immediately threatening options as well. The area I referred to off the bat was that defensive Sylveon has all but died off. Sylveon's WIsh + Protect recovery was so bad that Empoleon built much of its formidable niche off of simply phazing it out to prevent the fairy cat from healing itself. That would obviously allow teammates like Conkeldurr and Hydreigon to get out of hand much much more easily, but again, that isn't the case nearly as much anymore with the rise of Florges. Anyway, in the new age, Empoleon and Conk still fit remarkably well together, and a good portion of that symbiotic relationship is owed to their defensive synergy. Hydreigon is one of the absolute hardest Pokemon to cover defensively in the tier, commonly forcing the hand of builders into throwing on a Florges in combination with the presence of Conkeldurr. Specially defensive Empoleon and Bulk Up Conkeldurr are pretty much the best non-Fairy-type forms of counterplay to the Dragon just by virtue of their bulk on that side and combined resistance of its powerful STAB moves. So in a way, despite Empoleon not offering teams some of the usual utility of a Steel or Water, it does offset that by potentially alleviating teams of the need to run a bulky Fairy. If It wasn't implied already, These two are traditionally used alongside the aforementioned Crobat, which handles the opposing Bulk Up Conk issue that is brought about by the lack of Fairy on the team. In addition to the Fairy-type-by-committee approach, there's just some nice synergy there, as Conk can get some free turns off of Crobat's now-enabled U-turns on Steel-types and stuff too.

Aside from Defog, Empoleon has a couple other moves open besides its implied Scald in the other slot. They are incredibly flexible, and that's what makes Empoleon so flexible within these frameworks that may appear limited at a glance. They could be anything ranging from Signal Beam, Ice Beam, Toxic, Roar, Protect, Knock Off, Stealth Rock, etc. I have a heavy inclination towards some as opposed to others, but all have merit in some sort of sense. It is usually a choice between Signal Beam and Ice Beam, as Empoleon really wants to immediately threaten Hydreigon in some form, then there's a bit of trade off besides that. Signal Beam most notably nails Celebi of course, and still finds itself as the team's main Celebi check despite its previously brought up neutrality to Grass. Make no mistake (as seen in a certain UUPL game), it still needs a couple other loose checks and Grass pivots like Crobat, but generally it will be the thing coming in safely and winning the 1v1 handily when healthy. Ice Beam is a bit stronger against Hydra and nails Roserade and Mega Sceptile. The latter of which being a threat is an unintended negative consequence of forgoing a bulky Fairy and sometimes a Scarfer to outright revenge kill it. The last slot is a lot more open-ended. You might have guessed that with the drop off of Sylveon, Roar is much less of a fixture, which is arguable used to be, although it still is useful in some capacity. Still fucks over Wish passes and can phaze a boosted Cune or Gyarados so there's that. People use Protect but I've never been a fan tbh. It isn't super uncommon you get into Scald wars or other awkward situations like getting Knocked by Tenta, basically making the slot useless and the benefits don't really outweigh the others anyway. Toxic is rightfully gaining more traction with the rise of Seismitoad and Slowking, which are otherwise suuuper tough for it to deal with barring some fuck shit. You'll generally always have another rocker but there's that too I guess. Utility utility utility.

So, besides the usual Conkeldurr and Crobat alongside Empoleon, another actual bulky Water-type is a near guarantee. I'm pretty meh on the idea of Slowking next to it, despite making use of the combination of myself, but ideally the Water is incredibly formidable against Mega Aerodactyl considering how loose Empoleon is as a Steel against it, and you likely won't be fitting another Steel so yeah. The flying dino can get out of hand real quick, kinda turning me off of those two together though I don't think it's bad by any means. The main one that stands out is Seismitoad, which of course is incredibly strong against Mega Aero and can alleviate the need to run rocks on Empoleon (cwl) and also Knock Off. Seismitoad can fuck up opposing Emp and Tenta itself, so crippling them is less crucial. I'm not saying you have to use these 4 or anything, but in is a generically very solid start to a team. One of the more common last slots is Hydreigon of some set, but it is worth noting that Steel coverage Hydreigon and Bulk Up Conk have a ton of natural synergy for obvious reasons. Besides Conk sweeping potentially, Hydreigon can also open up itself by catching Florges on the switch after Conk has already knocked it. Scarf sets are also feasible, and that's another thing that's so nice about these kinds of teams. Although the Pokemon themselves are a little limited, their sets have enough breathing room to mold to their partners. Speaking of, there is a ton to do with the last slot, and Hydreigon itself isn't 100% necessary so ye.

Lastly, I just wanted to hit on some key teambuilding habits that have triggered me to some extent in the past. To me, Empoleon + Florges is pretty flipping redundant, since as I've said, a huge huge reason Empoleon is this useful is because it allows teams to forgo that kind of bulky Fairy and remain more upbeat offensively. I mean, it'll still do Empoleon things, but I can't help but feel like its miscast in a role where its defensive uses aren't even necessary. I've said this 9000 times, but ORAS UU is very hard to fit everything you want, and Empoleon is one of the few enablers that lets you bypass that usual standard balance approach. Moving on, another one just ties back to being overly loose in handling Mega Aerodactyl. One I just referred to was that of Slowking, which of course implies that the Ground-type next to the two will not be a Seismitoad or Swampert or whatever. The Ground is commonly more offensive, being a Nidoqueen or Krook or something. My Mandiqueen Rose team can be seen as a bit of a counterexample to this statement (although it's a bit of an outlier and Coba is there to offensively check too), but Slowking should never ever be the near 'sole' check to the Flying dino. The hypothetical rocks Krook is a more passable than Nidoqueen, but it obviously isn't punishing Aero too hard since it really needs Taunt in the last slot. CB is an option yeah but hf with rocks Emp and Defog Bat.

tldr: Empoleon is cool and opens the door to team styles that would otherwise be impossible, make the most of it please. In that way it really reminds me of that one friend who's always pushing you to get outside your comfort zone and do some wild shit. Sure, if you have a couple drinks with some friends at home (Florges balance), he'll take up the necessary space and be a good presence, but that's not his ideal setting. Thanks for reading this sirs, it ended up a lot longer than envisioned.
 
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Pak

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Coming to the Defense of Suicune
For what was once seen as a dominant game-to-game presence, it is honestly pretty crazy how sour the general opinions towards Suicune has grown over the last few years. From what you may have gathered from this thread, I'm not a particularly huge proponent of it, but with that said, I ended up ranking it by far the highest of the six voters in the most recent ORAS UU viability rankings update. It rounded out my top 5 while it found itself as low as the 20s for a couple of my ranking companions, which in my opinion warrants an explanation on my end. To preface this, I 100% agree that its consistency or usage isn't quite what is used to be, but its presence in the metagame is way too strong to be flat out ignored like any other B+ or whatever mon would be.

I've talked over and over about how much of this tier revolves around its various bulky Water-types sitting there and spamming Scald. You naturally want some sort of strong counterplay to deal with this ever-present element across all balance teams. When I've referred to this teambuilding necessity, it's more so referred to a Calm Mind Suicune check above all else. It can snowball out of control faster than anything if it isn't adequately prepared for, and simply put, if your team cannot handle a Calm Mind Suicune, it is a bad team. There are no ifs or buts, and it isn't one of those matchup picks where you ignore x and y because your opponent doesn't bring it that often. Sure, some teams will be safer against it than others, and that goes for any other top tier presence in the teambuilder, but the point remains. Suicune is just one of those Pokemon where it is completely unforgiving. By virtue of its defensive typing, ridiculous bulk and ability to further raise its sp def, its methods of counterplay are incredibly limited. You might throw on a non Scarf Hydreigon and be fine in pressuring Seismitoad or Slowking or whatever, though that is obviously not the case when dealing with cune. Shit, even Taunt Hydreigon is a bad answer. It might win the 1v1 in an absolute vacuum where the cune is unboosted, but that is rarely the case if it is in fact the main answer to it. Between Life Orb recoil, broken burns, and the sp def boosts, you don't end up doing all that much besides spamming Roost and having your attacks Leftovers'd off. This may sound like a random tangent, but it speaks to how you can't bullshit your way around Suicune like you can with those types of mons that theoretically take up the same defensive space on balance teams.

This is something I touched on in an earlier post, but Suicune is in fact not as strong in-game as it has been in the past. This is simply because it is better prepared for now than in the past, for the most part at least. However, that doesn't make its sheer presence in the teambuilder any less meaningful. Slowking or whatever else may be a consistently better pivot as a bulky Water-type, but it will never take over a game like a well-supported or unprepared-for Suicune. At the end of the day, viability is entirely subjective and people have their own unique mindsets when approaching it so it isn't a huge deal, but ranking it beside mons like Tentacruel or Heracross doesn't do it justice. The bearing Suicune and these couple examples have on sheer teambuilding is not even close. Beyond sweeping potential, Suicune is also amazing because of its consistently great defensive utility. Rest as its form of recovery is far from ideal, but it will without a single doubt provide you with a strong check to things like Mega Aerodactyl, Entei, and the meteorically-rising Demongross. Demongross really preys on those status-vulnerable Waters such as Slowking and Seismitoad, and it goes without saying that forcing a Rest on Suicune doesn't have the same kind of impact on a game's flow as permanently crippling a defensive staple's longevity. That isn't a small characteristic by any means in modern ORAS.

It really just boils down to certain meta trends and narratives spiraling out of control to some extent. Again, I'm not trying to discredit the rankers who opted to put it as low as they did. As a matter of fact, it's really the only point that I took particular disagreement with, and felt a need to clear up my side of the story to those uninvolved in the process who may have been wondering about that specific disparity. However, on that note, in tournaments lately, there have been a frustrating amount of teams that straight up hit x against a CroCune with a modest support system around it. Sure, it sees less usage than it did in the old days, but please don't act like it's some calculated risk or worthwhile trade off to flat out ignore a top 3 teambuiding check box. To be clear, I'm not referring to a specific disagreement I've had or something; it's really just time that people give the legendary Water dog the respect it deserves again.
 

Pak

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Nasty Plot Onions Are Healthy

In earlyish 2016, ORAS UU saw a massive turning point when Conkeldurr, Sylveon, and Celebi dropped down from OU. Them, in combination with the also relatively-new Gyarados, all played some role in putting dampers on the opinions players had on the tier, one that was nearly universally loved in 2015. It's easy to say in hindsight that Conkeldurr stands out about the others, especially considering that Sylveon has faced a huge drop off and Gyarados has fallen some out of popularity. This was for a couple reasons and potentially the biggest one was simply that people would use dog shit sets like AV because they were popular in OU. It became more and more apparent over time just how ridiculous its Bulk Up set was, as I've talked about in this thread and everywhere else 900 separate times. However, this post isn't about the broken concrete-wielding clown thing. Celebi was one that I conveniently left out when downplaying the impact of Conk's competition in 'ruining' the tier.

The onion fairy burst onto the scene in a big way, showcasing its potential in games like this in that UUPL. Outside of Dragon Dance Salamence, from loose memory I don't think there was ever a mon legal for a significant portion of time that could get out of hand on a moment's notice like Nasty Plot Celebi. People built teams just as they always had, utilizing the tier's generally mediocre Steel-types, along with some horse shit like Bronzong or Forretress, as their main means of checking Celebi. Given its STAB combination, that still holds up today of course, although things hadn't truly adapted to dealing with it. During this 6 month-ish span of ORAS, there was just a general sense of staleness. Long story short, many of the tier's players just accepted the tier as Sylveon CB Krook Celebi shit mirrors every game, and to make it even more of a snooze fest, goons just refused to adapt or push the boundaries of the metagame. People would roll up with Fairy-resists Bronzong + Tentacruel or Forretress + something and wonder why they couldn't pressure this broken piece of shit Sylveon. This 2016 rant might seem a bit out of place, but I swear its necessary for context. Because of the general passivity of these teams aside from a select few members, Celebi would not have a hard time getting itself going, especially since these clunky Sylveon balances didn't have much counterplay aside from harding in their Steel and hoping their Aero could revenge kill. Bloop suddenly its at +4, Giga Draining its way back to full, netting clean sweeps over and over, especially if it had the right coverage for their loose counterplay. To make matters worse, Baton Pass was flipping legal until right before the generation ended, and in that same voting slate, banning Celebi altogether was an option. So yeah, safe to say its presence was pretty notable and seen negatively by large portions of the community.

That brings me to my main point. I would argue that Celebi has had a net positive impact on ORAS UU in its time here. One of the main reasons is simply due to the crux of my rant above. It paid dividends in punishing this passive dog shit that everyone and their mom loved to spam because those were supposedly the only teams to theoretically check every box you could ever want in such a constrained tier. I mean, you could unironically say the same thing about Conkeldurr, which was of course the driving force behind the death of Sylveon, but there is a key difference between the two. Despite its vast coverage or utility options in its last slot on Nasty Plot sets, there was actually tech-able counterplay for Celebi. Think things like Signal Beam Empoleon, U-turn Mandibuzz, or even Signal Beam Celebi, which largely tie into checking opposing Celebi, but possess utility otherwise as well. They are perfectly healthy metagame adaptations. It is like Conkeldurr in that it can be incredibly unforgiving if not adequately prepared for, but because of the options available, it says more about teams being bad than it does Celebi being broken. As I've touched on many times, Conk's counterplay is hilariously limited and its easily supported, making the big distinction here.

As you may have noticed, a couple of these Celebi counterplay adaptations are staples on the common ORAS 'bulky offense' archetypes. Mandibuzz Slowking teams take full advantage of the bird's remarkable defensive utility and positioning ability provided by U-turn. Empoleon was of course noteworthy in punishing the bad Wish Protect recovery of Sylveon, and Signal Beam making it easier to fit as a team's main Steel, especially since it helped it out against Hydreigon as well. These kinds of teams which revolved around either getting strong Poisons in favorable spots or abusing Sylveon's passive recovery both played large roles in shifting the tier heavily. There is also just the wrinkle that Celebi provided the tier with some much needed direct punishment to Suicune. It's worth noting that before its drop, Heliolisk and Toxicroak were firmly UU, simply because they were Scald immune. That remains the case today although far more loosely, but obviously you aren't using them for pretty much any other reason. It just speaks to how dominant of a presence the Water dog was before Celebi presented the tier with such a reliable and splashable option in dealing with it and the other bulky Waters that pollute the tier. In hindsight it really is hilarious how much overextension was present in order to take on Cune, and it speaks to just how helpful Celebi was in decreasing the necessity to run these generally inconsistent or flawed options.

While the tier is still balance heavy for a number of reasons, Celebi has at least played a large role in shifting it toward a much more upbeat way of thinking. It is much harder these days to load up clunky passive bs and consistently get rewarded like one might in the old days. Aside from helping against Celebi, this uptick in slow U-turn pivots has really pushed the tier down this road as well. Proactive positioning has arguably never been more important, compared to the old days when Sylveons were sitting there for 70 turns throwing up Wishes and clunkily trying to pivot around. This came out a bit ranty-er than originally intended but thinking of 2016 just makes me mad. Shoutouts Celebi for being a nice man.

On this note, with UU snake coming up, I decided to play because nothing quite spurs teambuilding ideas like prepping for a specific opponent on a given week. Also if I do well, chances are I'll look less like a senile old man rambling to himself over and over about a tier barely anyone plays. Between that and school being a bitch, chances are I'll be less active here like I have lately, but maybe I can do some hl game or trend shit or something along the way.

(wrong thread, it was 3 am leave me alone)
 

Pak

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The ORAS Speed Conundrum
ORAS UU is a weird tier. That's the case for many reasons, but one of the primary ones lies in the unique assortment of Speed tiers. It is a tier generally on the slower side, and teams will largely rely on 1-2 members to handle the bulk of the revenge killing, which isn't exactly uncommon across other metagames, but maybe not to the absolute disparity it tends to be in ORAS UU. As weird as this may sound, despite playing competitive Pokemon since the start of 2014, when I kind of figured out how the game worked, I can probably count the number of scarfers I used on one hand before early SM UU in 2017. Naturally, the bulk of that playing time came in ORAS UU, the one tier I could build successfully. At a glance that statement is hilarious, but when you look at this tier as a whole, it does make a bit of sense. When I used to think of Speed here, my mind naturally turns to some of the fast (some previously) staples in Mega Aerodactyl, Mega Sceptile, Mega Beedrill, and Crobat. Basically nothing without a Choice Scarf is even close to these Pokemon, and they were all good enough in their own right that it was genuinely doable to have one of them on essentially every team. Naturally, there were times where I would have fastest mon Cobalion or Mega Houndoom or something else pretty sketchy, but it goes to show how limited and also fine these options were. Since then, I've obviously expanded my scope and realized how valuable scarfers can be, especially in faster paced metagames like SM UU, and honestly this disconnect was a major hurdle when I made the switch over, given that ORAS speed interactions were all I had ever known. However, these huge gaps in Speed were exclusive to things up top, as they also make up some other portions of the pecking order as well.

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Since I already mentioned the big dogs, we'll start with them. So as you might be able to tell from the image above, almost nothing on here is actually relevant. You might also notice just how little there is for Crobat to actually respect aside from opposing Crobat and non +Speed Mega Beedrill or Mega Scep, which can just as easily go +Speed, as it isn't particularly worth it to Speed tie non mega'd Aerodactyl and ideally you aren't investing too heavily into your Crobat mirror capabilities above other characteristics, namely bulk. I feel like it took us a fairly long time to reach this conclusion, but most of the time there isn't anything below Crobat on this list that is worth making a specific effort to outrun, ignoring Tornadus of course which was barely cut off on this image, and is just relevant enough that Crobat might as well pass it as it also outpaces the Cobalions and Infernapes of the world. Consequently, it begins a bit of a trickle-down (up?) effect, where suddenly Mega Beedrill and Mega Sceptile don't really have to respect max Speed Crobat, allowing them to get that extra punch out of their naturally high attacking base stats while missing out on basically nothing. As for Mega Aerodactyl up top, it still opts for a Jolly nature most of the time, as it outruns +1 Jolly Gyarados and all variants of Bee and Scep, but it can reasonably get away with Adamant in certain settings. The most common one is when it opts for a Crunch Pursuit set, where it is in desperate need of every % point it can muster versus Calm Mind Reuniclus, and presumably that set is found alongside a Dark-type that can't deal with it, Mandibuzz. In that same vein, Mandibuzz provides a strong answer to the biggest drawbacks in non Jolly Aero, being Mega Sceptile and Dragon Dance Gyarados. In a this way, the fact that these Speed titans only actually need to outrun each other besides Mega Aerodactyl, it has created a weird dynamic, where max Speed +Speed nature on all of these goons listed are perfectly viable, but the rarity of the tradeoffs actually biting you in the ass in addition to the added bulk or power is hard to pass up, especially when it comes to Haze Crobat attempting to deal with Conkeldurr, CB Krookodile, and Cobalion among others.

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Despite there being some tom foolery toward the top, this is when shit really hits the Speed fan. ORAS UU is home to many "viable" but inconsistent middling Speed breakers, and many of them have next to no presence in tournament play, as seen in the many cross outs above. I didn't cross out the base 80s because they're slightly above the rest, but again they aren't too common, barring a UU snake week when there were 3 Gardevoirs (topic for another day) or when someone really goes all out with Mamoswine, which is p hard to justify given its lack of defensive utility in such a constrained tier. No one uses the Jolly base 70s, and again the non +Speed base 80s are not super prominent. Because of this wasteland between 240 and 295 Speed, I've recently theorized running bulky variants of both Heracross and Nidoqueen, for similar reasons to the Crobat situation above. While it is riskier here due to giving these high potential breakers more breathing room, it ties back into really not being punished for the tradeoff all that often. Heracross certainly appreciates the added bulk in one-on-one matchups like against Krookodile, as well as the added power in attempting to push through Florges. I've never been a Nidoking guy for reasons that directly correlate with this post, being the mostly irrelevant added Speed and worse bulk than Nidoqueen, which can actually trade with Aero and shit from full, but I've done some thinking. Nidoqueen just misses out on breaking through Mandibuzz Slowking cores, but Modest Nidoking can actually warp this interactions in its favor with the slightly better rolls. It definitely has a niche, just harder to justify over its counterpart. The same goes for the rest. Base 80s themselves don't have much of a reason to forego the additional power considering their fellow speed tier inhabitants are the only thing they'll really miss, giving the 295ers the leeway to go bulky as hell (helping Nidoking some vs Aero and stuff in pure 1v1s) and likely not miss out on much in the process.


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I could keep repeating myself about these speed tiers being full of garbage but you get the jist. The key for this portion is really just creeping 2 main targets: max Speed Adamant/Modest Choice Band Conkeldurr and Choice Specs Sylveon. The former needs no introduction, but defensive staples in Florges and Seismitoad need little investment to surpass the 189 Speed threshold to minimize the broken fighters opportunities to kill shit potentially. Because of the little investment this requires, I'll actually drop Speed on CB Conk, and you might see the pattern by now. There have been some Jolly CB Conk advocates over the years, but to me its really just not worth, especially when taking into account how strong the thing's Mach Punch is. Besides outrunning Seismitoad and Florges is nice but ultimately it isn't a huge deal and they would likely ignore that Speed interaction if it weren't so convenient to surpass. It really only comes into play when Florges gets jabbed on the switch and the user thinks they're faster since they creep max Speed Ada Conk, then get killed, or if the toad user thinks they can finish off a weakened Conk for free. Neither of which is ultimately worth the trade off in ridiculous damage output imo. As for the other, Specs Sylveon wasn't a huge thing for a while, and actually just popped up again recently, but it remains a threat to be reckoned with, and it finds itself in a similar position to CB Conk. You can use Timid if you're about it, but it's damage output is also ridiculous and hard to willingly nerf, as it will outspeed most of the tier's bulky mons anyway. Timid does however give it the jump on the 220 goons, who sit in that Speed realm primarily for the jump on the Fairy cat and also so they are nearly guaranteed getting the jump on all these mid rangy Speed defensive mons. Inhabitants of 220 include like Nidoqueen, Mega Blastoise, and Roar Suicune.

This might've been a bit of an off the wall topic for my first post in 12 years, but it's something I randomly thought about and I had the time so why not. Again, I plan to return to these in the future, but it's hard to sit in a week to week ORAS UU tour and hand your opps free knowledge on your current ideologies and shit. Also laziness but you know.

tldr: a shit load of mons can reasonably go +atk natures or bulkier because the things below them have little reason not to as well, creating a huge chain reaction that results in bkc's wet dream of nuked +speed natures in these speed ranges
 
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Entei is perhaps the most polarizing Pokemon in the ORAS UU tier. Since the XY days, it's essentially done the same thing over and over, nuking shit with Choice Band Sacred Fire, which of course also has a stupidly high chance to inflict a broken pre-gen 7 burn. Bulky Water-types like Swampert (especially mega), Seismitoad, and Tentacruel are some of the most easily fit 'defensive answers' to it, but by no means are they safe. These types of sturdy Fire resists obviously all lack reliable recovery, meaning theoretically, they will almost certainly be outlasted by the legendary fire dog. Beyond these generic answers, there are others that are infinitely more reliable in dealing with Entei such as Slowking, Suicune, and Snorlax. However, you may notice the latter two rely on Rest to stay at sufficient amounts of health, often giving up heaps of momentum in their continuous recovery cycles all in the name of keeping Entei consistently in check. Given Slowking's access to one-turn recovery and broken ability in Regenerator, it is the most formidable long-term answer to it while still keeping the ball in your court to some extent momentum wise. However, it still hates the continual chip from burns, especially with its Colbur Berry Psychic set that has rose in popularity in recent years, which obviously lacks passive recovery aside from Regenerator. These types of interactions are what led a decent portion of the community, most notably tony and pearl, to essentially campaign for a serious look in Entei or Sacred Fire's direction when it came to potential bans in late 2016. In a tier seemingly no one was satisfied with, perhaps it could give the tier the additional breathing room in the builder to make playing the tier more worthwhile.

Based on the above, and the natural offensive opportunities in a tier dominated by the presence of bulky Fairy-types, it might sound as if I were making a case for Entei's unhealthy and potentially ban-worthy presence, and there still is an argument to be made in that aspect. However, Entei's place in the metagame has been in my opinion the most bizarre development since that late 2016 period when the tier officially came to an end. As mentioned above, much of the common team frameworks incorporate some kind of bulky Water-type. This is for a variety of reasons, mostly stemming from general defensive utility, but the main branch off of that is dealing with the two big threats: Mega Aerodactyl and Entei. When people brought up the laundry list of potential issues and teambuilding constraints within the tier, Entei was always near the top. So what happened and why is it bizarre? This formerly S-rank and supposed broken element in the tier has almost completely fallen off the map in recent memory.

In the on-going UU World Cup, there have been 21 ORAS games. Out of those 42 teams, 4 have had an Entei. In UUPL 2020, 32 games, 64 teams, 5 Enteis. For something so threatening in a vacuum, why has Entei almost entirely fallen out of tournament relevance? It all ties back to that term: in a vacuum. Let it be known, an Entei in the right matchup is, in my opinion, is the most devastating and unforgiving breaker to face. See an example here from a UU World Cup tiebreak game. In theory, Santu has 2 fine checks to Fires in Tentacruel and Hydreigon, but Entei just did Entei things, burning everything in sight and abusing passive defensive staples (you know, until truly inexplicable things happened at the end). There are certain matchups where the fire dog will just go to town and we'll have flashbacks to those 'ban Sacred Fire' days, but it isn't always that simple, and that is for a number of reasons / issues it runs into.
  1. Stealth Rock weakness - While this one is very self-explanatory, it really does go a long way in minimizing Entei's opportunities to throw itself in and start throwing out powerful attacks. An ideal setup was like the one shown in that tiebreak game, where Kink could keep rocks on his side, and simply play his Entei aggressively to kill everything in sight, but that isn't always doable or easy. The fact of the matter is that ORAS UU's Stealth Rock users are much better than the limited removal options. Ordinarily, Entei's offensive opportunities will come from the tier's defensive reliance on Fairies like Florges. It takes negligible damage from Moonblast and can click moves pretty freely, but it is much easier in theory than practice in many settings. Florges almost always has a bulky Water next to it, and it usually isn't something as flimsy as Tentacruel. With rocks on the Entei user's side, it isn't uncommon that it'll eat the 25 from rocks as Florges throws a Moonblast or a Wish in the air to easily pivot into another defensive check. While it will make some sort of progress generally, it will often not have the longevity itself to outlast the burn targets it is supposed to and so on.
  2. Inconsistency - I already mentioned how devastating an Entei in the right matchup is. That isn't always a given, and if it was, then Entei would almost certainly be BL. While the hard defensive answers I mentioned earlier do often lose momentum in some form aside from Slowking, Entei is still prevented from generating meaningful progress on its own. If Entei is your primary breaker, your team can be hung out to dry to some extent. I mean, every team will have answers to bulky Waters blah blah, but ok you're still trading a Pokemon slot to force a Rest or whatever. You can only fit so much breaking power and cohesiveness on a team and its hard not to rely on Entei breaking in a decent capacity.
  3. Fit onto teams - Ok, personally, I've tried for years and have never ever ever made an Entei team I actually liked. There are a lot of boxes to check in a functional ORAS team, and Entei doesn't check many. I can't stress enough that it CAN run the table in the right scenario, but again, it isn't a guarantee. This ties into fitting on teams in that you can't over-rely on Entei to carry too much of the load offensively because if it gets blanked, there's a good chance you're fucked. The main selling point is of course abusing defensive fairies, but ye ye I described this early, limited opportunities, Wishes always floating above Florges, and bulky Waters being omnipresent. It does offer some strong priority too, which I haven't touched on to this point, but that's about it. Ideally with Entei you have the following: reliable hazard control, teammates to position it more easily, additional ways of pressuring Fairies, ways to directly abuse bulky Water-types. Making a point to fit Entei really really handcuffs you and you aren't ever going to accomplish all of those perfectly without, again, relying on it too much in some way. Its inconsistency largely carries over to the teams it finds itself on as well.
So here we are at the final part of Entei's character arc, and also why it's been so intriguing to me as of late. Because of its reduced presence and resulting occasional lack of strong counterplay in tournaments, isn't this the time to hypothetically jump back on the hype train? I mean goons have been rolling up with Fire resist: Dragon Dance Gyarados with partners that hand it opportunities on opportunities ffs. I thought so and ran into the same issues over and over while trying to make use of it recently. Despite having the biggest reputation of them by a mile in the history of the tier, I honestly see it in a similar vein as the other inconsistent-matchup-pick breakers, which can of course find themselves at home under the right conditions, but they can just as easily not be worth using. If I'm being honest though, Sacred Fire is stupid as shit and probably is unhealthy. It would take the additional strain off building (if people even still do actively consider it). All in all though, I just thought it was super interesting how much of a turn its taken in the minds of builders and its general presence, which was at one point considered to be too much, basically disappearing before our eyes.
I agree with a lot of this. I used to grind ORAS UU hard back in the day and I always loved Banded Entei for his breaking power and the fear he holds. But looking back, I do think I always relied too heavily on him to do the damage for the team. He's got a great gig going for him and I've always considered him to be on top, but he does flop at times. One of the worst scenarios for him is a Pokemon having Protect, like Florges or Suicune (especially Suicune), and being able to run him dry of Sacred Fire. He only gets 8 uses of that unholy move. This puts him closer and closer with each mistake or each switch-in (like the Water types you mentioned) to him losing his best tool. Flare Blitz is powerful and Extreme Speed is an amazing tool on an already powerful Pokemon, but once he loses Sacred Fire his expected value goes down the shitter. He's a high yield but also high maintenance Pokemon between Sacred Fire PP and a SR weakness.

On top that of, I should've mentioned before that Mega Dactyl is his scourge. Aero can Stone Edge, Defog, Roost, or set up SR when he and Entei enter the field together. These are all bad options for the Entei user and put a halt to the momentum he can provide otherwise. Pursuit is even an option when you consider that Entei has a sore spot for SR and any other residual damage. The following calcs all put him in a poor expected value range
252 Atk Aerodactyl-Mega Stone Edge vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Entei: 384-452 (103.5 - 121.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
252 Atk Aerodactyl-Mega Earthquake vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Entei: 256-302 (69 - 81.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Tough Claws Aerodactyl-Mega Pursuit vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Entei: 67-79 (18 - 21.2%) -- possible 5HKO
252 Atk Tough Claws Aerodactyl-Mega switching boosted Pursuit vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Entei: 133-157 (35.8 - 42.3%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
That all said, neither one wants to switch in on the other. This is a problem for Entei that comes up when Entei scores a KO or a good read is made. Entei can bite back with a 24% Extreme Speed, which can be worth it under certain circumstances, otherwise he forfeits the field to Aero. Aero is no stranger to stealing momentum and can always put in great work, whereas Entei needs initiative and a good turn.

Another problem for Entei is that he stacks a Ground weakness with many other great Pokemon in UU, namely Heliolisk, Arcanine, Chandelure, Cobalion, Darm, Empoleon, Doublade, Lucario, Klefki, Nidos, and others. This rings back to the statement that Pak made about not being satisfied with an Entei team. Being a pure Fire type that dies to residual and Scarfed Mons diminishes the action Entei can see. Defensive/Scarf Krookodile is also a menace to him that debuffs him, can KO, Pursuit trap, or get up SR. The burn can be mitigated by a good Heal Bell partner like Celebi. But once again, neither wants to come in on the other.

His worst matchups tend to be against offensive teams because he can't switch in and his Speed is locked at 299. He's going to pick off weakened targets with Extreme Speed at best and be an accident waiting to happen at worst. I don't need to post the amount of Pokemon that can he lose to by not having the jump on them. Ultimately, Entei's biggest flaw is that he cannot afford to swap in when he really needs to be able to KO or dent the enemy. His expected value sits around average to good but he will have his darker days too. He's always going to need a good Volt Switch/U-Turn Mon to carry him into good positions.

I can say that I'll always love him but he does require commitment to maintain and apply him to the best of his abilities. That and dude he is just so cool, have you guys seen the movie?
 

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Pak

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Immediate Reaction to ORAS in UU Snake I

Alright so this will be more of a brief (hopefully) check-in / analysis of what I've seen in the on-going UU Snake I. There have seemed to be 900 different things I've wanted to talk about here recently, but something I have always been a bit paranoid on is giving away the slightest hints of my thought processes on a week-to-week basis. That applies to pretty much anything that could give my opponent even the slightest advantage, and that's mostly why I took my hiatus. If I write a novel on why Crobat is bad, just for a quick false example, then my opponent would likely know I'd avoid those types of team structures for our upcoming game and shit like that. Sure, I could make some bullshit posts to throw people off, but even those introduce some mind games and of course I do want this thread to remain accurate and logical. Ironically that brings me to my next point. Metagames are constantly evolving, and that comes with more and more creative minds giving things their own spin, then more changes to counter those and so on. Not everything I say in this thread is the end-all-be-all of course and everyone has their own unique take on the metagame at hand, and this tournament was a great example. Just taking a look around the pool, there are people of all different backgrounds, styles, and ideologies, and to be frank, at times I kind of fell into this trap where sometimes I would think what I think is objectively correct. It goes without saying that that isn't always true, especially in a game like this where there are so many factors in the teambuilder and literally no two people will see things the same way. In fact, it's healthy to have these kinds of disagreements, allowing both parties to expand their thinking and see things in a light they hadn't considered. Something I'm referring to in a large degree here was when I played against my good friend Killintime week 1 when our week was already decided. The tldr is that he brought some off-the-wall team picks that rubbed me the wrong way at the time and I reacted in a really stupid way, and for that I wanted to apologize again. In that same vein though, I do think it went a long way in making me realize some of that notion I hit on above. Some sets and approaches may be more consistent than others, but at the end of the day you're just trying to win a Pokemon best of one, where literally anything can happen in one player gaining an edge over the other. People will take different approaches and there's nothing wrong with that, and killintime is one of the better examples of someone applying some really creative shit, that most people wouldn't even consider, into his games for better or worse.

Zooming out a bit, I have been legitimately happy with the ORAS gameplay this tournament. I swear I mean this in the least condescending way possible, but for years it was just game after game of things that would piss me off in one way or another. This was due in large part to that aforementioned laziness and automatic defaulting to boring Sylveon balance that would focus all its effort on defensive cohesiveness, often lacking any real direction and solely hoping their Nasty Plot Celebi or CB Krook or whatever would just go hamburger. A lot of the time these types of teams would lack any real means of cracking down on others with the same approach, so you'd see these awkward as hell mirror matches with both sides featuring defensive Sylveon + 1-2 Fairy resists that couldn't pressure the pixie cat at all. I know it wasn't a perfect tier by any means, but the playerbase did it no favors and essentially just threw in the towel for the last 6 months or so of the generation, letting it become the unfun, universally hated shit it was. Obviously that's a big generalization, but if you look back at those past UUPLs, my god, it was the same shit over and over. The reason I went on this tangent that I've already hit on 1000 times is because this tournament was such a stark contrast from the old norm. You could look at this shit and the games from Spring 2017 or so and you would barely be able to tell its technically the same tier, and for someone like me that's dumped hours and hours into it, I can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment. It wasn't just my own doing of course, as like I mentioned above, it was the combined efforts of this randomly pretty stacked player pool that made it possible. Whether it was Pearl trying his hand at screens HO and dusting off the old Delphox idea, Chris Wanka bringing Venomoth + Steel nukers out of left field, Kink bringing back Bulk Up Tornadus, the week where there were randomly 3 Gardevoirs, etc. etc. There was just cool shit around every corner and it was legitimately amazing to see. When I say this I'm not trying to take credit for all this creativity, but the overall quality of the ORAS this tournament compared to those in the past, whether it was old UUPLs or the absolute abomination that was UUWC (holy shit nuke this), makes it feel like all my effort over the years wasn't wasted and the metagame's perception actually could be headed in the right direction (!!!!!!!!!!).
 

Pak

final flash
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I Was Wrong About AV Mienshao
After several minutes of trying to find the log of myself saying there is no reason to put AV Shao on an ORAS UU team, I got lazy, but yeah as you may guess from the title and some of my team choices in UU snake 1, my opinion on it as shifted a ton. Ever since McMeghan first invented the set in SM UU during Smogon Snake Draft 2, I think it's fairly safe to say it's always been a polarizing mon. For years and years, dating back to BW (to my knowledge) the primary Mienshao set has of course been Choice Scarf along with some sets featuring Life Orb + Regenerator as well. When Assault Vest was first brought about, McMeghan likened it as a replacement to AV Tornadus-T in OUs of old. Its respectable natural bulk, further bolstered by AV, in combination with the broken ability of Regenerator made the bird damn near unkillable as a pivot, and that largely applies to Mienshao too, bulk aside, especially considering the fact it doesn't care much about Stealth Rock either. Still, what business did this mon with paper-thin defenses have continually pivoting into powerful special moves like Hydreigon Draco Meteors? It was almost inconceivable at the time of its inception, but more and more people eventually picked up on its merits, but skeptics always remained, mostly due to how constricted SM UU building always was in combination with how few Pokemon Mienshao truly helped out against defensively. Additionally, there was powerful physical priority like Scizor Bullet Punch and the tier was much faster paced compared to ORAS, featuring threats such as Terrakion and Latias. It still had merit, but it remained difficult to justify.

However, its initial usage put the set's existence on all UU players' radar, leading certain people to experiment with it in ORAS UU. At the time of this transition, I was still lukewarm on the prospect of the newfound pivot in SM, and I was even more skeptical in ORAS, where some of the main staples at the time, Slowking, Crobat, and Florges, theoretically walled it. Honestly, it was another case of me being a little too critical of something that I didn't have sufficient experience with myself. This tournament, especially after week 1 as mentioned above even though I actually used AV Mienshao that week, one of my goals to was to keep more of an open mind when it came to sets like this. Over the last couple years, sometimes it had felt like I was beating my head into a wall with the same types of concepts over and over, leading to frustrations with the heavy constraints on building in the tier. Needless to say, branching out some gives building a newfound fresh feeling and makes it more fun overall, as like I've said, building is my favorite aspect of this dog shit game.


AV Mienshao's positive traits are basically incomparable to anything the tier had seen before. The mon has such a unique blend of Speed, respectable power, useful utility moves like U-turn and Knock Off among other coverage options, and finally, the stupidly broken ability of Regenerator. Traditionally, when you think of pivots in the tier, it generally would tie back to mons like Slowking or U-turn Mandibuzz, which could stomach hits from powerful attackers and not lose too much momentum in the process in comparison to their more passive defensive counterparts. Mandibuzz and the other big slow U-turn user, Gligar (which Conk spearheaded a big drop off in), saw additional merit in the fact that they could slow U-turn on top tier threats in Hydreigon and Celebi, but more so the latter. It was a massive point of emphasis for me when it came to developing some more modern team structures, as Mandibuzz could alleviate pressure off of the Steel-type Pokemon slot in dealing with the onion, as Steels are also infamous for being chipped down over time. Back when things were much slower and clunkier offensively, it was a much more common opinion that Celebi could be too much for the tier, mostly due to the issue with Steels mentioned above. The point of all this rambling is that Mienshao takes this trait of pivots in the past, while incorporating a much up-beat and offensively-minded approach. The key traits here are its Speed, as for most ORAS teams, there are usually two Pokemon max that'll outrun the fighting cat thing, as well as its ability to eat just about any one hit on the special side. This of course includes a STAB Psychic from Celebi, which outdamages Regenerator recovery, but it makes the initial pivot into the onion fairly safe and is nearly guaranteed to net you some sort of progress. It can syphon off some of these huge threats offensive pressure and completely turn the tables momentum wise. Essentially, AV Mienshao is incredibly brain dead and makes some in-game sequences exponentially more fluid for the user.

Also, earlier I mentioned some of Mienshao's theoretical counters. There are a couple key aspects of this topic. One of which is simply that when it comes to pivots, it is often the things they can pivot and their interactions with them are more prevalent than the Pokemon that hard counter the pivot in turn. Mandibuzz is again a great example. Sure, defensive Fairy-types have long been staples with the presence of Hydreigon and Conkeldurr, but Mandibuzz matches up well with many other common Pokemon in the metagame, giving it defensive value and an unintentional support avenue to its teams by effectively pivoting in teammates on these things that feast on it 1v1. Again, Mienshao is a much more offensive variation on this concept, especially when rocks are up. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that pressuring Crobat is a thousand times easier with rocks on the opponent's side, leaving it stuck clicking Roost much more often than it would prefer, purely so it can continue to check things like Conkeldurr and others. Click U-turn a couple times as rocks dig in and suddenly the bat just gets more and more abusable offensively. As for Florges, Mienshao's last moveslot should undoubtedly be Poison Jab. The rolls here aren't great but the thing is, they don't have to be. AV Shao simply Knocks Off Florges's Leftovers, then Jabs on the switch next sequence. It does enough that the flower has to keep clicking Synthesis, and the Shao user can stay in and simultaneously burn its Synth PP and fish for Poisons which are bound to happen. It's unironically one of the better ways to truly punish Florges-reliant balances, as they often lack any other form of meaningful counterplay without some really crack head pivoting. So yeah, so much for its omnipresent strong counterplay.

The jist here is that even though things can seem pretty weird on the surface, it's crucial to keep an open mind in situations like this, as they can further some of your own concepts and the ensuing potential combinations that push the metagame forward. For instance, week 1 I opted to pair Mienshao with CM Reuniclus, a mon notorious for losing boosting wars to Celebi and having some trouble getting the ball rolling with Darks like Hydreigon running around. I loved the fit of Mienshao next to it because of its ability to deter those threats, and it could also get Reuniclus in to punish more passive team members like some of those mentioned above. It didn't end up working as intended for other reasons, but the possibilities are endless with these types of off the wall picks and it makes building a lot more enjoyable, exploring unprecedented combinations. This type of stuff is why I wanted to join the tournament in the first place, as falling into those same building ruts can be so easy, and nothing quite compares to the inspiration from building week-to-week. AV Shao isn't perfect by any means, but it is such a bitch to kill and offers some pretty incomparable support and fluidity to its teams.
 
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